Abortion care limitations raise medicolegal concerns in IR

Interventional radiology (IR) specialists should be aware of shifting individual state laws on abortion so as to not be blindsided when called on to provide care to pregnant patients, a clinician in the field cautioned recently.

In July last year, for instance, North Carolina joined 20 other states by passing new legislation that limits abortion based on timing, type, or other requirements, with 14 states having outright bans, noted Priya Mody, MD, an interventional radiologist in Chapel Hill. In a recent interview with AuntMinnie.com, she encouraged interventional radiologists to be aware of the nuances of these laws.

“Though interventional radiologists are not as heavily impacted as our obstetrician colleagues, it is vital that we educate ourselves on the nuances of our individual state laws,” she said.

New abortion laws can have a “trickle down” effect on interventional radiologists.

In a letter to the editor published recently in the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, Mody and colleagues outlined specific procedures that interventionalists need to be clear on in terms of minimizing potential adverse legal actions.

For instance, there is an increasing use of uterine artery embolization and arterial occlusion balloon catheter placement in patients with complex obstetrical pathology such as ectopic gestations and complex abortion procedures to limit blood loss, morbidity, and mortality, she said.

Also, interventionalists may use image-guided intra-sac potassium chloride or intra-arterial methotrexate injections for termination of ectopic gestations, she said.

“There are some areas of the country where interventional radiologists really are much more involved,” she noted.

Caption: Interventionists should be aware of the legal implications of certain procedures.

For all interventional radiologists who offer these services, Mody recommends developing strong relationships with obstetricians/gynecologists in your hospital, who will be aware of the latest information on what’s permitted from a legal standpoint, including date restrictions.

“Every institution and facility has some kind of risk management and they can definitely assist with making sure from a documentation standpoint that you have met all the criteria to make sure your bases are covered,” she said.

Ultimately, the patient should always come first, although this is a unique situation – depending on what state you are in, whether you are caring for one patient or two may be defined differently, Mody added.

“Our goal is to take care of the patient who is at higher risk,” she said.

Taking care of patients at high risk remains a priority for interventionists.

You can listen to the full audio of the interview by clicking below.

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