Pregnancies lost and found: a quality improvement project to increase follow-up for early pregnancy complications

Safiyah Hosein, Lindsey Latteman, Andrew Paoletti, Elizabeth P. Gurney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Pregnancy of unknown location (PUL) and medically managed ectopic pregnancy (EP) require longitudinal surveillance to avoid adverse outcomes; however, patients with PUL/EP in the United States (U.S.) are often unable to adhere to recommended treatment plans. This quality improvement (QI) project sought to improve PUL/EP follow-up using a three-pronged intervention: standardised recall procedures, direct patient-provider communication and electronic medical record (EMR) documentation templates and tracking. We compared patients with PUL/EP managed before and after the QI project. Our primary outcome was completion of PUL/EP clinical care. Demographics, initial diagnoses and adverse outcomes were similar between 87 pre-QI and 81 post-QI patients. Significantly more patients completed PUL/EP clinical care post-QI (80.2 vs. 65.5% p =.03). Post-QI, more providers contacted patients at standard intervals (100 vs. 57.1%, p <.0001), and EMR documentation was improved (100 vs. 69.0%, p <.001). Simple changes to PUL/EP management improved completion of clinical care and compliance with standardised recall and documentation.IMPACT STATEMENTWhat is already known on this subject? Pregnancy of unknown location (PUL) and medically managed ectopic pregnancy (EP) require longitudinal surveillance to avoid adverse outcomes; however, patients with PUL/EP in the United States (U.S.) are often unable to adhere to recommended treatment plans. What do the results of this study add? By standardising recall procedures, ensuring direct communication between patients and providers using a dedicated cell phone, and integrating case tracking and documentation into the electronic medical record (EMR), this quality improvement (QI) project improved completion of clinical follow-up for patients with PUL/EP (overall, 80.2 vs. 65.5% pre-QI, p=.03) and for the subgroup with medically managed EP not requiring surgery (76.5 vs. 36.4% pre-QI, p=.05). We also improved providers’ compliance with standardised recall procedures and EMR documentation post-QI (p <.0001). There was no difference in the number of attempts to contact patients, or in the number of surveillance blood draws actually performed. Post-QI, survey responses indicated that patients were easily able to contact their provider and understood the importance of follow-up processes. What are the implications of these findings for clinical practice and/or research? Early pregnancy care providers can utilise simple strategies to improve follow-up of patients with PUL and medically managed EP, without increasing burdens to their health systems. Patients’ favourable experiences with this management support its implementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • ectopic pregnancy
  • follow-up
  • methotrexate
  • Pregnancy of unknown location
  • quality improvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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