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If I were to be in a car accident, or something similar, I know that certain tests would be performed either by the first responders or by the medical personnel in the emergency room. Like checking my blood type and for allergies to determine what medicines they can and can't give me.

This is why I have an ICE armband which identifies me, supplies my age, allergies, organ donor status and family contact details.

I'm also 15 weeks pregnant. If something were to happen to me, I'd want the doctor to know that I'm pregnant so that baby-safe measures could be taken (as much as possible) and that the health of the baby could also be evaluated.

Usually, pregnancy is determined by a urine test. However, if I'm unconscious in an emergency situation, I wouldn't be able to go to the bathroom. So a blood test is probably the only option.

How and when is pregnancy tested for in an emergency situation, and would it be beneficial to add a temporary notice to my ICE armband that I'm pregnant?

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  • Welcome to HealthSE! Nice question! You're invited to take the tour and read the help. Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 17:09
  • Just as comment due to limited time: Is routine pregnancy test necessary in women of reproductive age admitted to the emergency department?
    – bummi
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 17:13
  • Yay, I found something: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/26334607
    – user12041
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 20:52
  • " 1. Every female of reproductive age with significant injuries should be considered pregnant until proven otherwise by a definitive pregnancy test or ultrasound scan. "
    – user12041
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 20:53
  • 2
    The old saying in emergency medicine is that all females between the ages of 8 and 80 are pregnant until proven otherwise. (Sounds silly but the world's youngest mother was 5.) It can't hurt to add it to your armband if you want, but it's not really necessary since they can and will test even if you're unconscious (especially if you are). In fact, they would likely test anyway in that situation because for all they know the armband is old and you didn't update it after delivering your baby.
    – Carey Gregory
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 0:56

2 Answers 2

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While the blood pregnancy test is one option, urine pregnancy tests are still possible in an unconscious patient via a Foley catheter, which is a tube inserted up the urethra into the bladder. These catheters are commonly placed in trauma patients (2).

There are several things that can be done during emergency management of a patient that can potentially cause harm to a fetus. One of these is imaging involving radiation, such as X-rays or CT scans. However, after 16 weeks of pregnancy imaging is unlikely to cause harm to a fetus (1). There are a number of drugs that can cause harm to a fetus (teratogenic drugs), however many safe alternatives exist, and emergency medical personnel are trained to treat you as though you are pregnant until proven otherwise (3,4)

References:

1: Effects of Radiation on Fetus

2: Indications for a Foley Catheter

3: Teratogenic Medications in Pregnancy

4: Management of a Potentially Pregnant Trauma Patient

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If you are involved in an accident and are unconscious or have a reduced mental status (GCS < 11)1,2, the trauma team / shock room will be activated.

Most trauma centres follow the ATLS system, wherein during the primary survey, a brief ultrasound examination called eFAST will be carried out where the Douglas room is visualised and a pregnancy may already be detected. After / at the end of the primary survey, a urethral catheter will be placed and a urine sample will be collected for routine lab analysis. In women of reproductive age, this standardly includes a pregnancy test3.

1: https://health.mo.gov/living/healthcondiseases/chronic/tcdsystem/pdf/MU-ActivationCriteriaFinal.pdf

2: https://med.uth.edu/surgery/trauma-team-activation-policy/

3: HENRY, S. M. (2018). ATLS Advanced Trauma Life Support 10th Edition student course manual, 10e. AMERICAN COLLEGE OFSURGEO.

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