Baby risk women care changes sought

News Shopper: Doctors have been called on to give more information and support to women at risk of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies Doctors have been called on to give more information and support to women at risk of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies

Doctors must be more sympathetic to pregnant women in danger of losing their babies, according to a new report.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) believes doctors do not give enough information or support to women at risk of miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, where the egg will not develop into a baby.

Professor Mary Ann Lumsden, from Glasgow University, who helped develop the report, said: "It actually does not cost a great deal to be sympathetic and we try and get across that it is something that happens to a lot of women, but for each woman it is a unique event even if it happens more than once.

"We must recognise people's distress. We do recommend that staff are trained in dealing sensitively with giving information and that they get trained repeatedly."

Dr Nicola Davies, a GP who also helped with the report, said: "As a junior doctor, seeing people bleeding in pregnancy every hour, we do become very hard to it and do not give people time."

According to Nice, one in five pregnancies results in a miscarriage and 11 out of 1,000 are ectopic, meaning there are more than 50,000 early pregnancy losses in the UK annually. Between 2006 and 2008, six women died from ectopic pregnancies and two-thirds of those deaths were associated with sub-standard care.

The report recommends early pregnancy assessment services to try and diagnose ectopic pregnancies, which are frequently missed by doctors, and a 24-hour phone service.

It also emphasises the organisation of regional services so that there is help available seven days a week for women with early pregnancy complications, as in some areas there are no weekend or out-of-office hours services.

Prof Lumsden said: "A major part of the reason behind this guideline is to try to get everyone thinking about it and think, 'I wonder if this woman might be pregnant'. There are very few deaths from ectopic pregnancies but if there are any, there are too many.

"There may be some cost involved in setting up a seven-day specialist service but, in the long-term, it is likely to be cheaper and is certainly better for the woman to have scan facilities and staff with the expertise to assess a woman than it is to treat her in theatre or on a hospital ward after she has collapsed from an ectopic pregnancy or excessive bleeding."

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