Ethical Principles Do Not Support Mandatory Preanesthesia Pregnancy Screening Tests: A Narrative Review

Anesth Analg. 2024 May 1;138(5):980-991. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000006669. Epub 2023 Oct 6.


Respect for patient autonomy is a pillar of medical ethics, manifested predominantly through informed consent. Mandatory (routine) nonconsented preoperative urine pregnancy testing does not adequately respect patient autonomy, is potentially coercive, and has the potential to cause harm medically, psychologically, socially, and financially. Inaccuracies in pregnancy testing can result in false-positive and false-negative results, especially in early pregnancy. There is substantial scientific evidence that anesthesia is not harmful to the fetus, raising the question of whether pregnancy testing provides substantial benefit to the patient. Not performing a preanesthesia pregnancy test has not been associated with significant medicolegal consequences. We review the ethical implications of mandatory preanesthesia pregnancy testing in light of these facts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Tests*