Early Pregnancy Loss in the Emergency Department

Last updated on May 4, 2022

In 2017, PCMCH, in partnership with Health Quality Ontario and the Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program, developed recommendations for emergency department (ED) healthcare providers and staff in providing compassionate care to people experiencing an early pregnancy loss in the ED.

It is estimated that one in five pregnant individuals will experience an early pregnancy loss, defined as a loss that occurs at less than 20 weeks into the pregnancy. Experiencing a pregnancy loss can be a very emotional and traumatic time for expectant parents. When patients experience the symptoms of an early pregnancy loss they frequently seek medical care in an ED.  Since these cases represent a small proportion of total ED visits (less than one percent), healthcare providers and other staff in the ED may not have as much experience addressing the emotional and bereavement needs that commonly accompany this experience.

The physical and emotional care that healthcare providers can offer to individuals experiencing an early pregnancy loss has an important impact on their long-term emotional well-being. As such, it is critical that healthcare providers working in EDs attend to the patients’ psychological and emotional needs in an empathetic, caring environment. Compassionate care acknowledges pregnancy loss as a loss of life and considers the spiritual, emotional and cultural expressions of the pain that accompanies the loss of a baby.

Recommendations for the Provision of Compassionate Care Final Report

Summary of Recommendations

Early Pregnancy Loss – Discharge Teaching for Patients Experiencing an Early Pregnancy Loss

Early Pregnancy Loss – List of Pregnancy Loss Resources for Families and Healthcare Providers

Early Pregnancy Loss – Normal Grief Response: Dyer Model of Grief

Early Pregnancy Loss – Suggested content for Bereavement Package and Mementoes

Early Pregnancy Loss – Dos and Don’ts: Communicating with Families Experiencing a Pregnancy Loss

Early Pregnancy Loss – Communication Strategies for Breaking Bad News: Sample Frameworks

Early Pregnancy Loss – Bereavement Checklist