Bioethics Discussion Blog: 8 Weeks Pregnant—No! 4 weeks: A Problem in Professional Communication?

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

8 Weeks Pregnant—No! 4 weeks: A Problem in Professional Communication?


Try the following mind game scenario, which easily could be real and then tell us what should have been different in the professional communication to have made the outcome less traumatic for all. ..Maurice.


Young woman, pregnant, goes to ER for abdominal pain, accompanied by a young man. She is sent to the area that focuses on OB issues and she brings the young man in with her, saying he is the baby's father. An ultrasound is performed. The resident physician provides a running narrative what he is doing.

"Yes ... see here's the baby. The baby is about 8 weeks along ... "

Immediately the young woman says "No, that can't be. The baby is only 4weeks along."

"Nope," says the resident, "this one is a good 8 weeks ... "

"NO," the young woman insists. "You have to be wrong. That can't be." The young man is looking perplexed and perturbed. It becomes obvious he can't be the father, and he is just now finding out.

So what should the resident do now?

What should the resident have done earlier (remember, the young woman requested that the "father" come in)?
(Scenario obtained from a bioethics listserv presented by a subscriber ethicist)

Graphic: Ultrasound image of an 8 week fetus

1 Comments:

At Monday, September 21, 2009 8:00:00 PM, Blogger Snaps said...

It's a cop-out, but I would have insisted to see the patient alone first. The "father" can wait until I've gotten a general idea of what's going on.
This opinion is formed from my own training in emergency medicine where we're taught that most if not all questions that are personal should be asked in the ambulance where it is just myself and my patient. That way the patient is more likely to tell the truth.

 

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