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Reported management of early-pregnancy bleeding and miscarriage by general practitioners in Victoria.

Author(s): Mclaren B, Shelley JM

Affiliation(s): Centre for the Study of Mothers' and Children's Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC. bruce.mclaren@dfat.gov.au

Publication date & source: 2002-01-21, Med J Aust., 176(2):63-6.

OBJECTIVES: To describe the management of early-pregnancy bleeding and miscarriage reported by general practitioners in Victoria. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Self-administered, mailed survey of a stratified random sample of GPs in Victoria. Responses weighted by strata to reflect GP population. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Reported management in referral; investigation (especially ultrasound); expectant versus interventional management; and prevention of rhesus iso-immunisation RESULTS: 382 of 621 eligible GPs responded (response rate, 62%). GPs' reported referral was more likely if the patient had painful bleeding (55%) or if the pregnancy was not viable (77%). Ultrasound strongly influenced the assessment of bleeding. Two-thirds of doctors (262/369; 66%) would routinely order ultrasound for painless bleeding, and 328/369 (84%) for painful bleeding. Expectant management was recommended by 15/353 (4%) for incomplete miscarriage with light bleeding and by 6/351 (2%) when bleeding was heavy. Some GPs are uncertain of the indications for anti-D prophylaxis, including instrumentation of the uterus, for which 261/337 (77%) said they would routinely offer anti-D. There was less agreement about anti-D after threatened miscarriage, for which 213/353 (57%) said they offered the injection. CONCLUSIONS: GPs need a working knowledge of the management of early-pregnancy bleeding, and can probably encourage more rational management. There are significant areas where GPs are uncertain, often reflecting uncertainty elsewhere, and some areas where a minority of GPs are not aware of essential requirements.

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