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Irish Maternity Early Warning System (IMEWS)

The Irish Maternity Early Warning System (IMEWS) is a nationally agreed system developed for early detection of life threatening illness in pregnancy and the postnatal period.

IMEWS should be used for women who are clinically pregnant or who were delivered within the previous 42 days.

The guideline was first published as an obstetrics and gynaecology clinical programme guideline in June 2013.  The guideline was then developed further to become a National Clinical Guideline assured by the National Clinical Effectiveness Committee (NCEC), and launched by the Minister for Health, Leo Varadvar, at an event in Dublin Castle in November 2014.

In 2019 the IMEWS was updated by the Childbirth Guideline Development Group chaired by Professor Michael Turner and project managed by Dr Karen Power. An e-learning education programme was published in tandem and is available on HSELanD. 

IMEWS should be used to complement clinical care and it is not designed to replace clinical judgement. Clinical concern about an individual woman should trigger a call to medical staff irrespective of the IMEWS.  

The UCD Centre for Human Reproduction at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin carried out research to assess whether the introduction of the Irish Maternity Early Warning System in 2013 had improved the recording of vital signs among women with proven maternal bacteraemia.  The clinical article, which was published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics in January 2015, concluded that “among pregnant women with proven bacteremia, introduction of IMEWS has been associated with an improvement in the recording of vital signs, particularly respiratory rate”.  The article can be downloaded here.

The National Early Warning Score (NEWS) should be used of all non-pregnant women. Please click here for more information on NEWS.

Clinical Strategy and Programmes Division