UCSF, Ibis Reproductive Health researchers: Tele-abortion no less safe than in-person consultation

Telemedicine is as safe as in-person treatment when dispensing medication, or non-surgical, abortions, according to recent research published in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

For the study, Daniel Grossman, MD, director of Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at UC San Francisco, and Kate Grindlay, a project director and associate at Cambridge, Mass.-based Ibis Reproductive Health, compared adverse clinical outcomes of medication abortions during the first seven years of a telemedicine abortion service at a clinic system in Iowa, which launched in 2008.

Dr. Grossman and Ms. Grindlay identified 8,765 telemedicine and 10,405 in-person medication abortions during the study period, running from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2015. To identify adverse clinical events, the researchers analyzed required reporting forms submitted to the medication distributor and surveyed 119 emergency departments in Iowa.

The researchers found there were no deaths or surgeries as a result of either telemedicine or in-person medication abortions. There were 49 clinically significant adverse events, comprising 0.18 percent of telemedicine patients and 0.32 percent of in-person patients. Dr. Grossman and Ms. Grindlay concluded telemedicine abortion was no less safe than in-person treatment, in which adverse events are already rare.

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