Nurses' abortion care as safe as docs'

New research concludes nurses and midwives can perform abortions just as safely as doctors, pointing to the growing trend of nurses taking on advanced clinical roles, according to a study published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Researchers analyzed first-trimester abortion complications and side effects for roughly 9,000 women and found that trained nonphysician providers, such as nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants, provide effective and safe termination of pregnancy services.

According to one study that looked at about 1,400 women who got an abortion in Vermont or New Hampshire, 2.2 percent of procedures with a PA had complications, compared to 2.3 percent with a doctor, Reuters Health reported.

"As access to abortion is increasingly restricted, the including of nonphysicians in the pool of providers is really vital because fewer and fewer people will have access as there are more and more barriers," Amy Levi, a professor of midwifery at the University of New Mexico, told Reuters.

Trained nurses and midwives performing abortions also could allow some women to get earlier access to care, which is linked to fewer complications and better outcomes, Levi added.

The study echoes research last year that found care delivered by advanced practice nurses is just as safe and effective, if not more so, than care provided by physicians. NPs, in particular, earned similar scores to physicians on patient satisfaction, as well as cholesterol, blood pressure and mortality outcomes.

Such findings add to calls for increased nurse utilization. Although giving nurses advanced clinical roles will increase coverage and lower costs, the movement still faces opposition from physicians, with many doctors concerned about losing income and their rank as "captain of the ship," FierceHealthcare previously reported.

For more:
- read the Reuters article
- here's the study abstract