Critically ill Obstetric Patients

Debra A. Hrelic, PhD, RNC; Kellie M. Griggs, DNP, MSN-Ed, RNC-OB


Am Nurs Journal. 2018;13(11):20-24. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Although evidence-based nursing guidelines exist to direct the care of acute and chronic conditions in obstetric (OB) patients while they're in OB settings, few if any such guidelines exist for providing care to these same patients in emergency departments and intensive care units (ICUs). However, OB patients can be admitted to critical care settings with severe conditions—preeclampsia/eclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage (PPH), hemolysis/elevated liver enzymes/low platelet count (HELLP) syndrome, diabetes, cardiomyopathy, complications from anesthesia, renal failure, sepsis, stroke, amniotic or blood clot embolism, placental abruption/previa/accreta, or trauma—that require rigorous management.

Some critical care nurses have reported that they don't feel prepared to care for pregnant and postpartum patients with serious conditions. Understanding the unique challenges you might face with these patients can help you confidently care for them. In this article, we'll focus on two of the most common types of conditions seen in OB patients: hypertensive disorders and hemorrhagic disorders.