Early Pregnancy Loss in the Emergency Department
It is estimated that 1 in 5 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 Emergency Department (ED). Because these cases represent a small proportion of total ED visits (less than 1%), 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.
In partnership with Health Quality Ontario and the Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program the Provincial Council for Maternal and Child Health convened an Expert Advisory Panel in 2017. This group was tasked with the development of recommendations for healthcare providers and staff, to guide the provision of compassionate care to patients presenting with a confirmed early pregnancy loss in the ED.
The recommendations, along with practice support tools are available for download below.
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Download PDF Expert Advisory Panel Membership