The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is today (22 June) launching a consultation on a new draft guideline which, when published, will help the NHS in England and Wales provide consistent, effective, high-quality care for pregnant women experiencing pain or bleeding in early pregnancy (before 13 weeks gestation), or who may have an ectopic pregnancy.
Every year, around one in five pregnant women will experience some form of pain or bleeding in early pregnancy. While the majority will go on to have a successful pregnancy, for others the symptoms could indicate an impending miscarriage. Pain or bleeding can also be associated with ectopic pregnancy, although not all women with an ectopic pregnancy will experience these symptoms. NICE is developing its first ever NHS guideline on this sensitive subject and, as part of this process, is encouraging charities, patient groups, NHS organisations and others to register their interest and take part in the consultation by submitting their comments on the draft recommendations, thereby helping to develop the final guideline.
Professor Mark Baker, Director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, said: “When a pregnant woman experiences pain or bleeding in early pregnancy, it can be a very frightening time. It’s vital she receives sensitive, timely and effective care and support, especially if she goes on to lose her baby, either through miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies can also be potentially life-threatening for the mother if they aren’t diagnosed and managed effectively. Unfortunately at the moment, standards can vary across the country and some women may not be receiving optimum care, particularly those who have an ectopic pregnancy but do not exhibit obvious signs of pain or bleeding.
“The draft version of our guideline on the assessment and management of pain and bleeding in early pregnancy is now subject to a consultation phase and we welcome comments from groups who have registered an interest in this guideline. All feedback will help us develop an effective guideline. Once published, it will ensure the NHS across England and Wales can consistently deliver a high level of care and support to pregnant women and their families.”
Recommendations on which NICE is asking organisations and other stakeholders to comment include:
- Signs and symptoms of ectopic pregnancy: Be aware that atypical presentation for ectopic pregnancy is common and that ectopic pregnancy can present with a variety of symptoms and signs (as set out in the draft guideline). All healthcare professionals involved in the care of women of reproductive age should have access to pregnancy tests.
- Ultrasound for determining a viable intrauterine pregnancy: Women with pain and/or bleeding should be offered a transvaginal ultrasound (TVU) to identify the location of the pregnancy and presence of a fetal pole and heartbeat. If a TVU is not acceptable, a transabdominal ultrasound (TAU) should be offered as an alternative.
- Management of miscarriage: Expectant management for 7-14 days should be the first line management strategy following confirmed diagnosis of a non-viable pregnancy.
- Specialist assessment service:A dedicated early pregnancy assessment service (where scanning and decision making about management can be carried out), should be available for women with pain and/or bleeding in early pregnancy.
- Psychological support:Healthcare professionals providing care for women with early pregnancy complications in any setting should be aware that early pregnancy complications can cause significant distress for some women and their partners. Healthcare professionals providing care for these women should be given training in sensitive communications and breaking bad news.
Groups with a registered interest in this guideline have until Friday 17 August 2012 to comment on the draft recommendations. Following this, development on the guideline will continue with recommendations likely to change depending on feedback received during the consultation.
Written by NICE and supplied by Health4Media