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Late diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy 'putting women at risk'

Women are at risk of serious harm and death because hospitals are not always diagnosing ectopic pregnancies quickly enough, an investigation reveals.

About 12,000 women a year in the UK suffer an ectopic pregnancy – when a fertilised egg grows outside the womb – putting them at risk if a fallopian tube containing the foetus ruptures and causes potentially fatal heavy bleeding.

An investigation by the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB)  has found flaws in the treatment women receive. It has highlighted late diagnosis and consequent delay in treatment as a major concern, especially as a result of the condition being mistaken for a urinary tract infection.

NHS patient safety data shows that 30 ectopic pregnancies were missed and led to “serious harm” between April 2017 and August 2018.

As well as the risk to life, an ectopic pregnancy can also damage a woman’s chances of conceiving again and have serious psychological effects.

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Source: The Guardian, 5 March 2020


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