One in 200 babies in the Republic of Ireland is stillborn. Investigating the cause of stillbirth helps gives the clinician valuable information in relation to managing a subsequent pregnancy. A PM is the most useful and informative investigation that can be performed in the postnatal period.
PM uptake rates in Ireland are low, circa 50%. There are few guidelines for staff on how to broach this issue and it is possible that individual clinicians’ attitudes to PM affect the uptake rates.
We conducted a questionnaire study examining the attitudes of midwives and obstetricians in Ireland to perinatal PM. This questionnaire has been validated by the ISA, ANZSA and also by UK−Sands.
In total 117 questionnaires were completed. Obstetricians made up 44% of respondents - the rest were midwives. 17% of respondents never gave information to parents about PMs. Of those who did, only 37% did so at the time of diagnosis. The majority of respondents (76%) were dissatisfied with the quality of training received in how to counsel for PM. 46% of respondents were satisfied with the quality of information materials available in counselling parents re PM. 83% felt that a clinical guideline would be helpful to assist parents in decision making.
To summarise, there is a wide variation among health care staff in the current knowledge and clinical practise relating to stillbirth and consenting for PM. We anticipate that by introducing a standardised guideline and improving staff education that our PM rates will improve dramatically.
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