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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2007 May;196(5):445.e1-5.

Surgical management of early pregnancy failure: history, politics, and safe, cost-effective care.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Division of Gynecology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


Early pregnancy failure and induced abortion are often managed differently, even though safe uterine evacuation is the goal in both. Early pregnancy failure is commonly treated by curettage in operating room settings in anesthetized patients. Induced abortion is most commonly managed by office vacuum aspiration in awake or sedated patients. Medical evidence does not support routine operating room management of early pregnancy failure. This commentary reviews historical origins of these different care standards, explores political factors responsible for their perpetuation, and uses experience at University of Michigan to dramatize the ways in which history, politics, and biomedicine intersect to produce patient care. The University of Michigan initiated office uterine evacuations for early pregnancy failure treatment. Patients previously went to the operating room. These changes required faculty, staff, and resident education. Our efforts blurred the lines between spontaneous and induced abortion management, improved patient care and better utilized hospital resources.

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