The correct diagnosis was initially suspected in 32 (53%) of 60 patients with ectopic pregnancy who attended an accident and emergency department. Incorrect diagnoses were made because ectopic pregnancy was not considered or because relevant symptoms and signs were missed or misinterpreted. Three patients had been 'sterilized'. Twenty-four patients (40%) had abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding for more than 1 week before attending. Fever and leucocytosis were wrongly attributed to pelvic infection. Pregnancy tests were positive in 56% of the patients tested.
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