JOURNAL ARTICLE

Hospital referrals with possible ectopic pregnancy: prospective observational study

Alison Crocker, S Arulkumaran, R Hayman
Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology: the Journal of the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2003, 23 (2): 179-81
12745566
Women of reproductive age with abdominal pain represent a diagnostic challenge, especially in primary care where the decision whether to refer to hospital needs to be taken. The diagnosis of an ectopic pregnancy hinges on a combination of clinical findings and a positive urinary pregnancy test (UPT). We investigated whether non-pregnant patients with abdominal pain were being referred inappropriately to hospital to exclude ectopic pregnancy because a UPT had not been performed or had been interpreted incorrectly. In this study, of the 81 patients referred by their general practitioners (GPs) on suspicion of ectopic, 38 were not pregnant on admission and only 46% of the UPT results in hospital agreed with those reported to the GP by the patient prior to referral. Given the high sensitivity and specificity of correctly interpreted UPTs, our findings suggest that pregnancy should be confirmed before hospital referral.

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