Ectopic Pregnancy and Emergency Care: Ethical and Legal Issues
International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 82, No. 1, pp. 121-126, 2003
6 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2006
Ectopic or tubal pregnancy presents a medical emergency that requires prompt treatment in order to contain risks of maternal death and morbidity, including loss of future fertility. Medical circumstances involving individual patients and resources of the prevailing health care system will determine the options and means of treatment. Termination of ectopic pregnancy does not constitute or directly implicate abortion. Any practice of deliberately delaying treatment of reliably diagnosed ectopic pregnancy, on non-clinical grounds, until rupture of the fallopian tube has occurred or is imminent, in order to justify termination of the ectopic pregnancy on grounds of saving the patient's life, is unethical and illegal. Those who undertake or counsel deliberate delay of medically-indicated treatment can be charged with criminal offences and civil (non-criminal) liability, and medical professional misconduct. On reliable diagnosis, prompt treatment to remove ectopic pregnancy is legally justified, and ethically and legally required.
Keywords: Ectopic pregnancy, Tubal pregnancy, Pregnancy, Emergency care, Methotrexate, Laparotomy, Salpingectomy, Laparoscopy
JEL Classification: I18, K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation