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Emergency department visits and major complications after abortion: analysis of a nationwide emergency department sample

Ushma Upadhyay, PhD, MPH, University of California, San Francisco

Project abstract

In the past 5 years state legislatures across the United States (U.S.) have passed numerous laws that regulate abortion provision, such as hospital admitting privileges and hospital transfer agreement requirements, with the deliberate implication that abortion patients frequently are hospitalized after abortion. However, the incidence of abortion-related emergency department (ED) visits and hospital admissions nationally and the reasons for these visits are not well documented. This proposed research involves a collaboration between the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health Program at the University of California, San Francisco and the Division of Sex and Gender in Emergency Medicine at Alpert Medical School of Brown University. We will utilize a multi-year, nationally representative database of ED visits and inpatient hospital treatment to examine abortion-related ED care in the US. We will estimate the proportion of ED visits that are for abortion-related care, describe the characteristics of the population seeking abortion-related care, describe the treatments that patients with abortion-related diagnoses receive in EDs, analyze the sociodemographic characteristics associated with major abortion-related complications; and estimate the national rate of hospital admission after an ED visit for abortion-related reasons. The results of this analysis will provide needed data on the frequency of abortion-related ED visits as well as the diagnoses and subsequent treatments that patients receive. In addition, these results will determine what proportion of ED visits were for patients receiving minimal medical intervention or being observed and released, and thus could have been managed at a less costly level of care.


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