Jill Durocher

Provision of Medication Abortion in Hawai‘i during COVID-19: Practical Experience with Multiple Care Delivery Models

March 28th, 2021
Medical Abortion
Kerestes C., Murayama, S., Tyson, J., Natavio, M., Seamon, E., Raidoo, S., Lacar, L., Bowen, E., Soon, R., Platais, I., Kaneshiro, B., Stowers, P.

Contraception; 2021 Mar 28; Vol. 104(1): 49-53; doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2021.03.025

Objective: To demonstrate the effectiveness of medication abortion with the implementation of telemedicine and a no-test protocol in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Study design: This is a retrospective cohort study of patients who had a medication abortion up to 77 days gestation at the University of Hawai‘i between April and November 2020. Patients had the option of traditional in clinic care or telemedicine with either in clinic pickup or mailing of medications. During this time, a no-test protocol for medication abortion without prior labs or ultrasound was in place for eligible patients. The primary outcome was the rate of successful medication abortion without surgical intervention. Secondary outcomes included abortion-related complications.

Results: A total of 334 patients were dispensed mifepristone and misoprostol, 149 (44.6%) with telemedicine with in-person pickup of medications, 75 (22.5%) via telemedicine with medications mailed, and 110 (32.9%) via traditional in person visits. The overall rate of complete medication abortion without surgical intervention was 95.8%, with success rates of 96.8, 97.1, and 93.6% for the clinic pickup, mail, and clinic visit groups, respectively. Success for those without an ultrasound performed prior to the procedure was 96.6%, compared to 95.5% for those with ultrasound. We obtained follow-up data for 87.8% of participants.

Conclusions: Medication abortion was safe and effective while offering multiple modes of care delivery including telemedicine visits without an ultrasound performed prior to dispensing medications.

Implications: Incorporating telemedicine and a no-test protocol for medication abortion is safe and has the potential to expand access to abortion care. All care models had low rates of adverse events, which contradicts the idea that the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategyincreases the safety of medication abortion.