Do Religious Restrictions Influence Ectopic Pregnancy Management? A National Qualitative Study
ABSTRACT In the United States, ectopic pregnancies are relatively common and associated with significant maternal morbidity and mortality. The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (the Directives) govern the provision of care in Catholic-affiliated hospitals and prohibit the provision of abortion in almost all circumstances. Although ectopic pregnancies are not viable, some Catholic ethicists have argued that the Directives preclude physicians at Catholic hospitals from managing tubal pregnancies with methods and procedures that involve "direct" action against the embryo.
We undertook this qualitative study to explore the relationship between the Directives, hospital policies regarding ectopic pregnancy management, and clinical practices. We recruited participants at non-Catholic, longstanding Catholic, and recently merged facilities and conducted focused interviews with 24 physicians at 16 hospitals in 10 states.
Participants from three Catholic facilities reported that medical therapy with methotrexate was not offered because of their hospitals' religious affiliation. The lack of methotrexate resulted in changes in counseling and practice patterns, including managing ectopic pregnancies expectantly, providing the medication surreptitiously, and transferring patients to other facilities. Further, several physicians reported that, before initiating treatment, they were required to document nonviability through what they perceived as unnecessary paperwork, tests, and imaging studies.
Our findings suggest that some interpretations of the Directives are precluding physicians from providing women with ectopic pregnancies with information about and access to a full range of treatment options and are resulting in practices that delay care and may expose women to unnecessary risks.
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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to assess how common it is for obstetrician-gynecologists who work in religiously affiliated hospitals or practices to experience conflict with those institutions over religiously based policies for patient care and to identify the proportion of obstetrician-gynecologists who report that their hospitals restrict their options for the treatment of ectopic pregnancy. We mailed a survey to a nationally representative sample of 1800 practicing obstetrician-gynecologists. The response rate was 66%. Among obstetrician-gynecologists who practice in religiously affiliated institutions, 37% have had a conflict with their institution over religiously based policies. These conflicts are most common in Catholic institutions (52%; adjusted odds ratio, 8.7; 95% confidence interval, 1.7-46.2). Few reported that their options for treating ectopic pregnancy are limited by their hospitals (2.5% at non-Catholic institutions vs 5.5% at Catholic institutions; P = .07). Many obstetrician-gynecologists who practice in religiously affiliated institutions have had conflicts over religiously based policies. The effects of these conflicts on patient care and outcomes are an important area for future research.American journal of obstetrics and gynecology 04/2012; 207(1):73.e1-5. DOI:10.1016/j.ajog.2012.04.023 · 3.97 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The pharmacologic management and the nonpharmacologic management of first-trimester complications in the emergency department are reviewed. The obstetric complications most commonly seen in early pregnancy (less than 20 weeks' gestation) include ectopic pregnancy, threatened and inevitable abortions, and incomplete, complete, and missed abortions. The treatment options for ectopic pregnancy include expectant management, medical management with methotrexate, and surgery. If patients have signs and symptoms of tubal rupture, surgery must be performed immediately. In other cases, the choice of management technique is based on the patient's clinical condition, factors related to the ectopic pregnancy, and the patient's preferences. Pharmacologic therapies for women with confirmed threatened abortion include human chorionic gonadotropin, progesterone, uterine muscle relaxants, and Rh immune globulin prophylaxis. Treatment goals for women whose condition has advanced to inevitable abortion include evacuating any retained products of conception, either with expectant (conservative) management or pharmacologic or surgical intervention. The best treatment option is often determined by the mother's clinical status at the time of presentation and her preference of management strategy. Management of complete abortion may not require any further intervention; however, it is often difficult to identify a complete versus incomplete abortion. Treatment options for complete, incomplete, and missed abortions include expectant, surgical, and medical management. Ectopic pregnancy, threatened and inevitable abortions, and incomplete, complete, and missed abortions are common complications during early pregnancy. Various medical and surgical treatment options are available for managing these complications, including expectant management, medical management, and surgery. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2013; 70:99-111.American journal of health-system pharmacy: AJHP: official journal of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists 01/2013; 70(2):99-111. DOI:10.2146/ajhp120069 · 2.21 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: To determine (1) whether fetal care paediatric (FCP) and maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) specialists harbour differing attitudes about pregnancy termination for congenital fetal conditions, their perceived responsibilities to pregnant women and fetuses, and the fetus as a patient and (2) whether self-perceived primary responsibilities to fetuses and women and views about the fetus as a patient are associated with attitudes about clinical care. METHODS: Mail survey of 434 MFM and FCP specialists (response rates 60.9% and 54.2%, respectively). RESULTS: MFMs were more likely than FCPs to disagree with these statements (all p values<0.005): (1) 'the presence of a fetal abnormality is not an appropriate reason for a couple to consider pregnancy termination' (MFM : FCP-78.4% vs 63.5%); (2) 'the effects that a child born with disabilities might have on marital and family relationships is not an appropriate reason for a couple to consider pregnancy termination' (MFM : FCP-80.5% vs 70.2%); and (3) 'the cost of healthcare for the future child is not an appropriate reason for a couple to consider pregnancy termination' (MFM : FCP-73.5% vs 55.9%). 65% MFMs versus 47% FCPs disagreed that their professional responsibility is to focus primarily on fetal well-being (p<0.01). Specialists did not differ regarding the fetus as a separate patient. Responses about self-perceived responsibility to focus on fetal well-being were associated with clinical practice attitudes. CONCLUSIONS: Independent of demographic and sociopolitical characteristics, FCPs and MFMs possess divergent ethical sensitivities regarding pregnancy termination, pregnant women and fetuses, which may influence clinical care.Journal of medical ethics 04/2013; 40(2). DOI:10.1136/medethics-2012-101126 · 1.69 Impact Factor