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Doctors Consider Giving Up Obstetrics After Infant Death

Perinatal death has a profound emotional impact and obstetricians may be unprepared for this emotional stress

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- While the tremendous effect of perinatal death on families is well known, perinatal death has a substantive effect on obstetric providers, according to an article published in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Katherine J. Gold, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues surveyed 1,500 U.S. obstetricians regarding their experiences and beliefs in dealing with perinatal death. Respondents answered questions regarding personal experiences with perinatal death, questions about bereavement education and skills, and demographics.

Of the 804 respondents, 75 percent reported a significant personal, emotional impact as a result of a perinatal death, and nearly 10 percent of obstetricians reported considering giving up their obstetric practice, the report indicates. More than half of obstetricians believed they received adequate training to cope with fetal and infant death, but only one-third believed that all providers had similar adequate training. The most common strategies employed by obstetricians to cope with perinatal death were talking with colleagues (87 percent) and talking with family or friends (56 percent).

"This large national survey provides compelling evidence that caring for patients with fetal or infant death can be profoundly stressful," according to the authors. "Perinatal death takes a significant emotional toll on obstetricians, and physician training offers an important opportunity to assist physicians in coping when this traumatic experience occurs."

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