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Abortion-related emergency department visits in the United States: An analysis of a national emergency department sample



Abortion-related emergency department visits in the United States: An analysis of a national emergency department sample



Bmc Medicine 16(1): 88



Media depictions and laws passed in state legislatures regulating abortion suggest abortion-related medical emergencies are common. An accurate understanding of abortion-related emergencies is important for informing policy and practice. We assessed the incidence of abortion-related emergency department (ED) visits in the United States (U.S.). We used a retrospective observational study design using 2009-2013 data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, a nationally representative sample of U.S. ED visits from 947 to 964 hospitals across the U.S. per year. All ED visits among women of reproductive age (15-49) were included. We categorized ED visits by abortion relatedness and treatments received, and assessed whether the visit was for a major incident (defined as requiring blood transfusion, surgery, or overnight inpatient stay). We estimated the proportion of visits that were abortion-related and described the characteristics of patients making these visits, the diagnoses and subsequent treatments received by these patients, the sociodemographic and hospital characteristics associated with the incidents and observation care only (defined as receiving no treatments), and the rate of major incidents for all abortion patients in the U.S. Among all ED visits by women aged 15-49 (189,480,685), 0.01% (n = 27,941) were abortion-related. Of these visits, 51% (95% confidence interval, 95% CI 49.3-51.9%) of the women received observation care only. A total of 20% (95% CI 19.3-21.3%) of abortion-related ED visits were for major incidents. One-fifth (22%, 95% CI 20.9-23.0%) of abortion-related visits resulted in admission to the same hospital for abortion-related reasons. Of the visits, 1.4% (n = 390, 95% CI 1.1-1.7%) were potentially due to attempts at self-induced abortion. In multivariable models, women using Medicaid (adjusted odds ratio, AOR 1.28, 95% CI 1.08-1.52) and women with a comorbid condition (AORs 2.47-4.63) had higher odds of having a major incident than women using private insurance and those without comorbid conditions. During the study period, 0.11% of all abortions in the U.S. resulted in major incidents as seen in EDs. Abortion-related ED visits comprise a small proportion of women's ED visits. Many abortion-related ED visits may not be indicated or could have been managed at a less costly level of care. Given the low rate of major incidents, perceptions that abortion is unsafe are not based on evidence.

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Accession: 043031646

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 29898742

DOI: 10.1186/s12916-018-1072-0


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