A is for aphorism - A woman is pregnant until proven otherwise

Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published version

Doust, J. (2012). A is for aphorism - A woman is pregnant until proven otherwise. Australian Family Physician, 41(10), 827-827

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© Copyright The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners 2012




Extract: I arrived late at my shift in the emergency department, direct from a session in general practice. The nursing staff had an ‘easy’ patient for me: a woman, 19 years of age, with pelvic pain and dysuria, whose urinanalysis showed white cells and nitrites. I checked the chart for allergies, wrote a script for trimethoprim and went to talk to the patient. The patient was in a cubicle with her partner and they listened patiently while I explained potential triggers for urinary tract infections and ways to avoid them. The patient then mentioned that she had worsening abdominal pain, so I asked if I could examine her abdomen. I was shocked to find a large solid protuberance in her abdomen, with a height well above her umbilicus. The patient and her partner denied any possibility of pregnancy, but I asked the nursing staff to organise a urinary beta human chorionic gonadotropin (betahCG) test. The test was positive, so I went back to the cubicle, where I discovered the patient’s abdominal pain had intensified and there was fluid over the bed and floor. I now had to explain to the patient that she was not only pregnant but actually in labour.



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