Catholic-Affiliated Hospitals Don’t Provide Residents with Adequate Reproductive Healthcare Training


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A new study from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that OB-GYN residents in faith-based hospital programs do not receive “full reproductive healthcare training,” according to Rewire.News. One-fourth of OB-GYN residents in these programs do not meet the minimum requirements for procedures used for abortions and second-trimester miscarriages.

With faith-based facilities, and especially Catholic hospitals, rising in popularity, there are a growing number offacilities opening or affiliated with religious backgrounds.

The Rewire News article cited a study that found that Catholic-affiliated hospitals account for one out of every six hospital beds in short-term care facilities. This means that one-sixth of the acute-care hospital beds in the country are owned by or affiliated with a Catholic hospital. Almost half of these hospitals do not follow the requirements set by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) for providing “routine, opt-out abortions.” Furthermore, 11 percent of OG-BYN residents spend 70 percent of their residencies at faith-based facilities that limit family planning for religious reasons. The study also found that over half of Catholic residency programs have inadequate training when it comes to family planning outpatient care.

It is not unusual for Catholic hospitals to impose restrictions on abortion care; however, issues arise when considering the restrictions these facilities also implement for contraception and sterilization. Maryan Guiahi, OB-GYN at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, noted in the article that residents from these facilities also lack the ability to perform tubal litigations, which is a skilled sterilization procedure, after vaginal birth. In a survey of 25 institutions about reproductive healthcare training, all of them said they should follow the ACGME’s guidelines, but over one-third of these institutions received citations about improper training. There were no reports of similar deficiencies in other, non-faith-based facilities.

These types of restrictions not only limit access to care for people who might need it but also set back the residents working there. According to the article, once residents training at these facilities entered the workforce, they were ill-equipped to handle family planning procedures; they either had to learn from other colleagues, and when if they go on to open their own private practices, they are unlikely to provide those services. The article does not mention detailed long-term effects of residents in Catholic hospitals, but does cite a study outlining how these facilities impact residency.

A previous article written by the same author on Rewire.News explained that many patients do not know about how medical facilities’ religious affiliations may limit the range of services available to them.  According to tholic institutions may be withholding information, preventing the public from knowing how this impacts their reproductive health care.

Most corporate media are have been silent on these issues. However, a November 21, 2019 column by Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times described protests by the ACLU and others against the University of California’s lack of control over medical programs at the school’s Catholic-affiliated hospital partners. The piece focused on the religious restrictions imposed on providers and patients but made no mention of residencies or the overarching problem of Catholic hospital family planning and its impact on medical training.

Source: Amy Littlefield, “Faith-Based Hospitals Are Not Adequately Training Residents in Abortion Procedures,” Rewire.News, September 19, 2019, https://rewire.news/article/2019/09/19/faith-based-hospitals-are-not-adequately-training-residents-in-abortion-procedures/.

Student Researcher: Maya Bryant (North Central College)

Faculty Evaluator: Steve Macek (North Central College)

Review Article with Credder

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