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Helping your patients making an informed choice: Medical or Surgical abortion?


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Thursday, 17 June 2021

Helping your patients making an informed choice: Medical or Surgical abortion?

This week the blog has been submitted by MSI Reproductive Choices UK and is about supporting patients to make an informed choice based on NICE guidance.

Helping your patients making an informed choice: Medical or Surgical abortion?

Most patients having an abortion can choose how it will be carried out. Choosing the right treatment with your patient will not only depend on their gestation, but it will also depend on their individual circumstances, their medical examination and history and how they feel about the different options.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published two decision aid leaflets that can help you and your patient decide which option is best for them: a medical abortion, if eligible via telemedicine (abortion pills are sent by post or collected from clinic) or a surgical abortion.

The NICE Guidelines decision aid leaflets will walk your patient through pros and cons with each of the treatment options, answering questions such as:

  • What are the options available to me (based on gestation)?
  • Where will the abortion take place?
  • Is the abortion painful?
  • How much bleeding will I get?
  • What other problems could I have?
  • How likely am I to need another procedure to complete the abortion?
  • What contraception options are available at the same time or after the abortion?

If your patient is eligible for abortion telemedicine, they can choose to be treated at home or face-to-face in a clinic. During the pandemic, many patients who are eligible have opted for telemedicine to minimise the risk of being exposed to the virus. This option includes video consultations as part of their termination of pregnancy treatment.

However, patients are entitled to choose whichever which suits them, and they are always offered the choice of being seen face-to-face.

Choice is also important if your patient requires or requests a surgical procedure. Most abortions are treated under 10 weeks in England and Wales and can normally be treated medically, but everyone can opt to be treated surgically. If that is your patient’s preference, they can ask the booking service about the choice of anaesthetic: from general anaesthetic to conscious sedation or nothing at all.

During the consultation with the chosen abortion provider, the nurse will walk through the options and answer any questions, so that every patient can make an informed choice about their treatment.