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P133: Why the emergency department is the wrong place for patients with early pregnancy complications: A qualitative study of patient experience

  • V. Rojas-Luengas (a1), B. Seaton (a1), K. Dainty (a1), S. McLeod (a1) and C. Varner (a1)...

Abstract

Introduction: Women experiencing complications of early pregnancy frequently seek care in the emergency department (ED), as most have not yet established care with an obstetrical provider. The objective of this study was to explore the lived experiences and perceptions of care of women treated for early pregnancy complications in the ED and early pregnancy clinic (EPC). Methods: We conducted an interpretive phenomenological qualitative study of women who presented to the ED or EPC of an urban tertiary care hospital with early pregnancy loss or threatened loss. We employed purposive sampling to recruit participants for in-depth, one-on-one telephone interviews conducted approximately 6 weeks after the index visit. Data collection and analysis were concurrent and continued until thematic saturation had occurred. Our research team of two qualitative researchers, a clinician, a clinical researcher, and a research student performed a phenomenologically-informed thematic analysis including three phases of coding to identify essential patterns of lived experience and meaning across the sample. Results: Interviews were completed with 30 women between July and August 2018. Participants ranged in age from 22 to 45 years and reflected the diversity of the multicultural city where the study occurred. Four key themes of patient experience were identified: tensions between what is known and unknown by women and ED staff about early pregnancy complications and care in hospital, stigmatization of early pregnancy complications and ED use, normalization of a chaotic experience, and the overwhelm of unexpected outcomes during the ED visit. Conclusion: The perspectives of women attending the ED or EPC for early pregnancy complications highlights the ways in which the current health care system minimizes and medicalizes early pregnancy complications in this setting and fails to adequately support these women. The emotional complexity of this medical situation is often overlooked by ED staff and can produce encounters that are traumatic for patients and families. However, the participants’ negative experiences occurring in the ED were often mitigated with their care in their follow-up with the EPC.

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