For a General Practitioner ectopic pregnancy has two important aspects: the diagnosis and the aftercare.
Every General Practitioner worries about missing the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy, a fear amplified by the regular reports in the MDU and MPS magazines. Anything that makes GPs more aware of the risks and that increases their clinical acumen must be an important part of GP education. GPs need to learn to think ectopic and exclude ectopic when the potential exists. The uncertainty and consequences of a missed ectopic are such that diagnostic skills and confidence and the understanding of the circumstance of admission are an essential part of safe general practice.
An ectopic is a significant event and much can be learned by analysing and discussing every ectopic pregnancy within the practice.
General Practitioners are in the fortunate position of maintaining a continuing relationship with their patients and this means that they are often called upon to deal with the continuing care of the woman who has an ectopic pregnancy. The fear of failed fertility is a spectre that is maintained after the event and this needs to be tackled with exploration and discussion of the woman's fears, beliefs and desire for answers. Close liaison between hospital and GP is vital, and the information needed to answer the woman's questions is an essential part of this hospital practice liaison.
Dr M Ingram, MRCGP