Pregnant women should not be turned away, UAE doctors say

Babies - not insurance - must come first, say doctors in the UAE amid concerns that pregnant women without health insurance may be turned away.

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A healthy delivery should be the main concern of every hospital when a woman arrives ready to give birth, and formalities must be dealt with later, doctors say.

The patient must immediately be admitted to the labour ward for a general assessment, including intervals between contractions, dilation of the cervix and the provision of necessary antibiotics, said Dr Purnima Deb, a gynaecologist at Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai.

However, she said things are more complicated if the woman is not a patient at the hospital.

“The doctor will not have access to the patient’s history so he doesn’t know if she’s had an infection screening,” she said. “In that case the doctor must treat the patient as if she is infected.”

Once the patient has given birth, blood samples are taken and sent to the laboratory. “The patient is likely to stay two days in the hospital if it’s a natural birth, or five days if it was through a Caesarean,” Dr Deb said: “That provides enough time to get the test results and follow up with the patient accordingly.”

In cases where the head is already crowning, the patient may need to go directly to the emergency or delivery room, said Dr Pankaj Shrivastav, director at the Sharjah gynaecology and fertility hospital, Conceive. “You want to make sure you are in a safe, clean, environment and that the appropriate staff are available,” he said.

“During this time the doctor should be taking the patient’s history from friends and relatives, because the patient is unlikely to be in a state to respond to questions.”

Hospitals should be willing to take in these patients regardless of financial issues, such as lack of insurance coverage.

“At that point you can’t turn the mother away,” Dr Shrivastav said. “You just want to make sure the baby and mother are safe and all the rest will be sorted out later.”