Emergency nurses need additional knowledge of abortion-limiting legislation and the related clinical, ethical, and legal implications for emergency care staff and their patients, a study published in the Journal of Emergency Nursing found.
The findings also highlight the increase in pregnant patients seeking care in emergency departments as the number of “OB deserts”—regions with limited or absent perinatal care—grows. Through interviews with ED nurses, the study explored the clinical decision-making processes of emergency nurses caring for patients with obstetrical emergencies in the context of limited or no access to abortion care.
“What If It Where Me? A Qualitative Exploratory Study of Emergency Nurses’ Clinical Decision Making Related to Obstetrical Emergencies in the Context of a Post-Roe Environment” reflects the candid comments of nurses who work in states with care-limiting legislation describing a lack of hospital protocols, concerns about delayed care, and overall discomfort treating patients experiencing obstetric emergencies.
“This was an important study to conduct. First, laws surrounding access to appropriate care for patients having pregnancy emergencies have been in flux in large areas of the country. Second, EDs are seeing more and more obstetric emergencies in communities where no OB services are available,” says Lisa Wolf, PhD, RN, CEN, FAEN, FAAN, associate professor at UMass Amherst Elaine Marieb College of Nursing, who is also Director, Emergency Nursing Research at ENA and lead the study. “Emergency nurses are not commonly trained in identifying and treating OB emergencies.”
Anna Valdez, PhD, RN, PHN, CEN, CFRN, CNE, FAEN, FAADN, JEN editor-in-chief of the Journal of Emergency Nursing says the study is an excellent example of the current and relevant research nurses conduct that assesses and explains the ways policies and laws impact EDs.