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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.

If you have any questions or comments about this work, please send them to: info@pcmch.on.ca.

Download PDF Expert Advisory Panel Membership

Download PDF Expert Advisory Panel Membership

Download PDF Final Report of Recommendations

Download PDF Summary of Recommendations

Resources

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