An Analysis of Patient Safety Events Submitted by Abortion Facilities in Pennsylvania 2017–2019


  • Elizabeth Kukielka, PharmD, MA, RPH Patient Safety Authority



abortion complication, incomplete abortion, failed abortion, hematometra, endometritis, uterine perforation, patient safety


Induced abortion, also called elective abortion, therapeutic abortion, and termination of pregnancy, is widely considered a safe procedure, but complications are known to occur. In Pennsylvania, an induced abortion may be performed at an abortion facility as an outpatient procedure, and these facilities are required to report patient safety events to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Reporting System (PA-PSRS). We extracted 736 events submitted to PA-PSRS by abortion facilities from 2017 through 2019 and analyzed these events in order to better understand patient safety concerns at abortion facilities in particular. All patients were female, and they ranged in age from 14 to 47 years, with a median patient age of 27 years (interquartile range = 23 to 31 years). Complications related to an induced abortion comprised the majority of events (71.6%; n=527), followed by unplanned transfers to the emergency department or acute visits to a healthcare facility following an induced abortion (13.9%; n=102). The most common complication associated with induced abortion was an incomplete abortion (i.e., retained pregnancy tissue; n=343); other complications included failed abortions (i.e., a continuing intrauterine pregnancy following an abortion; n=101), infections (e.g., endometritis and pelvic inflammatory disease [PID]; n=45), and surgical complications (e.g., hematometra, uterine perforation, and cervical lacerations; n=66). The remainder of events (14.5%; n=107) described other patient safety events that occurred at abortion facilities, such as documentation failures and medication-related events.

Author Biography

Elizabeth Kukielka, PharmD, MA, RPH, Patient Safety Authority

Elizabeth Kukielka ( is a patient safety analyst on the Data Science and Research team at the Patient Safety Authority. Before joining the PSA, she was a promotional medical writer for numerous publications, including Pharmacy Times and The American Journal of Managed Care. Kukielka also worked for a decade as a community pharmacist and pharmacy manager, with expertise in immunization delivery, diabetes management, medication therapy management, and pharmacy compounding.


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Ob-gyn patient room with chair



How to Cite

Kukielka, E. (2020). An Analysis of Patient Safety Events Submitted by Abortion Facilities in Pennsylvania 2017–2019. Patient Safety, 2(4), 62–71.



Original Research and Articles
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