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RCOG seek to raise awareness to reduce maternal deaths and injury to the unborn child
One in ten thousand pregnancies in the UK and Ireland results in the death of the mother. Of these 32% were due to complications during pregnancy, such as pre-eclampsia or bleeding, while 68% were due to other medical and mental health conditions.
Training medical professionals
Educating medical professionals is considered key to ensuring that pregnant women are properly cared for and the risk of maternal death and fetal damage minimised. A high impact training video has been produced by the Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) to underline that the fact of pregnancy means the woman cannot just be treated as another ill patient and that the signs, symptoms and complications may well be outside the expertise of a single clinician and require multidisciplinary input.
Key recommendations include:
- Improve communication between medical specialisms and ensure that pregnant women are assessed by an obstetrician as well as senior doctors before being discharged from hospital for conditions unrelated to pregnancy.
- Ensure referrals are made by telephone to avoid delay.
- Never assume that presenting symptoms are simply due to pregnancy.
- Commence antibiotics / antivirals promptly if there are signs of pneumonia or influenza.
- Reassess for blood clots at every medical appointment and treat with anticoagulants if necessary.
- Never stop existing medication without specialist advice.
- Ensure that treating practitioners are familiar with the women’s medical history.
- Have a low index of suspicion for seeking expert help for pregnant women generally and specifically in respect of cardiac problems if the women presents with breathlessness or chest pain, epilepsy or a first seizure, and pay particular attention to women from complex social backgrounds.
Experienced medical negligence lawyer Richard Money-Kyrle commented:
“We have acted for clients and families where the fact of pregnancy or recent delivery was seen as an irrelevant factor when assessing and treating the pregnant woman with the consequences of still birth, brain damage to the baby and/or mother and maternal death. The training video should be compulsory viewing for all medical professionals”.
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