Pregnancy Testing Before Surgery – Information for Patients

Patient Experience

  • Reference Number: HEY-822/2023
  • Departments: Day Surgery (DSU), Paediatrics
  • Last Updated: 31 August 2023


This leaflet has been produced to give you general information. Most of your questions should be answered by this leaflet. It is not intended to replace the discussion between you and the healthcare team, but may act as a starting point for discussion. If after reading it you have any concerns or require further explanation, please discuss this with a member of the healthcare team.

Please read the information leaflet.  Share the information it contains with your partner and family (if you wish) so that they can be of help and support.  There may be information they need to know, especially if they are taking care of your child following this examination.

When your child comes into hospital for an operation they will be asked to give a urine sample for a pregnancy test on the morning of the operation.  This is something hospitals all across the country are doing and has been specifically recommended as a way of enhancing safety.

Why am I being asked to do this?

Pregnancy testing before surgery is recommended for all female patients aged 12 to 55 years of age. It has no relation to any individual’s circumstances.

I am sure I am not pregnant; must I have the test?

Nobody has to have the pregnancy test. If you and/or your parents decide not to be tested you will be asked to sign a declaration to say you have made that decision. We recommend that even people confident about contraception undertake a pregnancy test.

Why is it important?

The very early stages of pregnancy are the time when an embryo may be most vulnerable to the potential ill effects of medicines, X-rays and anaesthetics. Operations on the abdomen and pelvis can directly affect the womb and operations on other parts of the body may involve medicines that can affect pregnancy.

I do not think this is right for my daughter

We hope you will understand that it is better to test every female patient of child bearing age rather than discriminate by asking personal questions. Although there may only be a very small number of pregnancies in this age group, we believe that, based on national guidance, testing all girls of childbearing age is the most effective way of avoiding the risk of harm.

For most young people the test will be negative, showing that they are not pregnant and the procedure can go ahead as planned. For a small number of young people, the test may be positive and we would then have to think very carefully about the best way to proceed and to make sure the right care was organised to help with the pregnancy.

General Advice and Consent

Most of your questions should have been answered by this leaflet, but remember that this is only a starting point for discussion with the healthcare team.

Consent to treatment

Before any doctor, nurse or therapist examines or treats your child, they must seek your consent or permission. In order to make a decision, you need to have information from health professionals about the treatment or investigation which is being offered to your child. You should always ask them more questions if you do not understand or if you want more information.

The information you receive should be about your child’s condition, the alternatives available for your child, and whether it carries risks as well as the benefits. What is important is that your consent is genuine or valid. That means:

  • you must be able to give your consent
  • you must be given enough information to enable you to make a decision
  • you must be acting under your own free will and not under the strong influence of another person

Information about your child

We collect and use your child’s information to provide your child with care and treatment. As part of your child’s care, information about your child will be shared between members of a healthcare team, some of whom you may not meet. Your child’s information may also be used to help train staff, to check the quality of our care, to manage and plan the health service, and to help with research. Wherever possible we use anonymous data.

We may pass on relevant information to other health organisations that provide your child with care. All information is treated as strictly confidential and is not given to anyone who does not need it. If you have any concerns please ask your child’s doctor, or the person caring for your child.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018 we are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of any information we hold about your child. For further information visit the following page: Confidential Information about You.

If you need information about your child’s (or a child you care for) health and wellbeing and their care and treatment in a different format, such as large print, braille or audio, due to disability, impairment or sensory loss, please advise a member of staff and this can be arranged.

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