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Checking pregnancy status in adolescent girls before procedures under general anaesthesia
  1. J F Donaldson1,
  2. S J Napier2,
  3. M Ward-Jones2,
  4. R A Wheeler3,4,
  5. P M Spargo5
  1. 1Senior House Officer, Wessex Regional Centre for Paediatric Surgery, Southampton, Hampshire, UK
  2. 2Specialist Registrar, Anaesthetics Department, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, Hampshire, UK
  3. 3Honorary Senior Lecturer in Clinical Law, Southampton University, Southampton, UK
  4. 4Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, Wessex Regional Centre for Paediatric Surgery, Southampton, Hampshire, UK
  5. 5Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist, Anaesthetics Department, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, Hampshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr S J Napier, Anaesthetics Department, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Tremona Road, Southampton, Hampshire SO16 6YD, UK; sarahjnapier{at}yahoo.co.uk

Abstract

Objective Surgery, ionising radiation and anaesthesia in the presence of an undetected pregnancy could be harmful. British guidelines state that female patients of 'childbearing age' should have their pregnancy status established before surgery. Approaching this topic with an adolescent girl can be challenging.

Design The authors conducted an observational study and a survey in their institution and a national survey of Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists (APA) linkmen.

Setting Local: Southampton. National: UK.

Results Both surveys demonstrate widespread concerns about inconsistent and informal practices. Only 45% of respondents in the authors' institution stated they ask adolescent girls if they could be pregnant. 40% of APA linkmen were unaware of national guidelines.

Conclusions This work illustrates the need for consistent national guidance. We propose that all girls who have reached menarche should be routinely offered a urine pregnancy test before any procedure under general anaesthesia.

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Footnotes

  • Competing interests RAW has provided advice concerning forthcoming national guidance on this topic. There are no other competing interests to declare.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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