Expectations and experiences of women presenting to emergency departments with early pregnancy bleeding

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Objective: To explore women's expectations and experiences when presenting to the ED with early pregnancy bleeding. Methods: We conducted a qualitative study where women presenting to the ED with early pregnancy bleeding participated in two semi-structured interviews. An initial interview explored expectations of care and was conducted prior to ED treatment. A follow-up interview about experiences with care was conducted after discharge from the ED. Women were recruited from three EDs in suburban Melbourne: one tertiary referral centre and two urban district hospitals. Results: Thirty women with early pregnancy bleeding completed the initial interview and 22 completed the follow-up interview. Eleven participants were primigravid women and 21 participants had never experienced early pregnancy bleeding prior to their ED presentation. Four themes relating to the patient experience were identified: (i) Acknowledgement of patients' concerns by hospital staff, including informing patients of progress and explanation of investigation results; (ii) Early pregnancy bleeding as a distressing experience, with most participants expecting that this would be acknowledged by ED staff, and privacy provided to allow for grieving; (iii) Prolonged waiting time for an urgent medical condition; and (iv) Ongoing care and support, such as providing recommendations of available services to support patients on discharge from the ED. Conclusion: Early pregnancy bleeding is a distressing and anxiety-provoking experience for women attending the ED. Appropriate emotional support is critical to the holistic care for those seeking emergency care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-287
Number of pages7
JournalEMA - Emergency Medicine Australasia
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • emergency service
  • first
  • hospital
  • patient satisfaction
  • pregnancy complication
  • pregnancy trimester

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