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Amniotic Fluid Embolism

Sundin, Courtney Stanley MSN, RNC-OB; Mazac, Lauren Bradham BSN, RNC-OB

MCN, American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing: January/February 2017 - Volume 42 - Issue 1 - p 29–35
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0000000000000292
Feature: CE Connection

Abstract: Amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is a rare but serious and potentially deadly complication of pregnancy that is unpreventable and unpredictable. Most AFE events occur during labor; however, approximately one third happen during the immediate postpartum period. Presentation is abrupt and thought to be an abnormal response to fetal materials entering maternal circulation through the placental insertion site. Care providers must recognize the signs and symptoms of AFE and react quickly to treat potential complications. This can be challenging as there are no set diagnostic criteria or specific laboratory tests. Generally, the diagnosis is based on clinical status when the classic triad of hypoxia, hypotension, and subsequent coagulopathy are noted in a laboring woman or woman who just gave birth, and no other plausible explanation can be determined. Proper treatment of AFE requires a multidisciplinary approach to decrease maternal morbidity and mortality. Knowledge, simulation, and familiarization of a Massive Obstetric Transfusion protocol can help all members of the perinatal team recognize and respond to women with AFE in a timely and effective manner. A case study is presented of a woman with a seemingly normal obstetric course that became complicated rapidly following development of an AFE.

Amniotic fluid embolism is an unpredictable and potentially lethal complication of pregnancy. Maternal and fetal mortality remain high, although improvements in critical care over the years have contributed to better survival rates. An overview of what is known about amniotic fluid embolism is presented along with an exemplar case.

Courtney Stanley Sundin is a Clinical Nurse Supervisor at Labor & Delivery, Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center, Andrews Women's Hospital, Fort Worth, TX. The author can be reached via e-mail at courtneysundin@gmail.com

Lauren Bradham Mazac is a Clinical Nurse Supervisor at Labor & Delivery, Baylor Scott & White All Saints Medical Center, Andrews Women's Hospital, Fort Worth, TX.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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