Continuing Medical Education

Preventing maternal deaths due to ectopic pregnancy

N F Moran


The majority of maternal deaths due to ectopic pregnancy (EP) could be avoided if the health service renders better-quality care. There are two common clinical mistakes that lead to death from EP: (i) failure to make the diagnosis, because the attending healthcare worker does not consider this option; and (ii) failure to act urgently to stop the bleeding when there are signs of hypovolaemic shock. The only reliable way to stop the bleeding in a shocked patient with a ruptured EP is to urgently perform a laparotomy and clamp the bleeding vessels. Doctors at district hospitals must learn and maintain the skills required to provide anaesthesia for and operate on patients with a ruptured EP.

Author's affiliations

N F Moran, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, Durban, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Emergency medicine; Maternal mortality; Ectopic pregnancy; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2018;108(12):1018-1020. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2018.v108i12.13453

Article History

Date submitted: 2018-11-26
Date published: 2018-11-26

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