The possibility of pregnancy should be considered in all relevant female patients before surgery which could pose risks to mother or fetus. Preoperative assessment may take place weeks in advance of the planned operation and pregnancy status may change during the intervening time. Not all women at present have pregnancy status checked routinely before surgery.
This RRR reminds NHS organisations that existing preoperative assessment policies must include a check of possible pregnancy in the immediate preoperative period, in line with National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines. These recommend pregnancy testing, with informed consent, for women who say it is possible they could be pregnant.
The following action is for all organisations undertaking surgery in the NHS and the independent sector:
1. Local preoperative assessment policies should be reviewed to ensure that pregnancy status is checked within the immediate preoperative period in accordance with NICE guidelines.
2. The check should be recorded on preoperative documentation used by staff performing final clinical and identity checks before surgical intervention.
3. Organisations should demonstrate robust reporting of incidents where pregnancy checks have not happened and any associated actions that may come from this (which may include local audit).