‘Bedside’ ultrasound machine use approved at Nova Scotia’s only abortion clinic

Health officials in Nova Scotia have approved the use of an ultrasound machine at the province’s only abortion clinic, a decision a top official says will improve access.

The new machine arrived at the Women’s Choice Clinic at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax last month after a fundraising campaign collected $60,000 from a private foundation and local donations.

But the diagnostic imaging equipment – used to locate and date pregnancies – sat idle after the Nova Scotia Health Authority refused to allow doctors to use it, saying the clinic already had access to ultrasounds performed by registered sonographers in consultation with trained radiologists.

Kim Munroe, director of ambulatory care for the QEII, said in an emailed statement on Monday that the “intraoperative” use of the ultrasound at the bedside has been approved for the clinic, the only facility in the province solely dedicated to performing abortions.

She said physicians will use their clinical judgement in determining whether use of the machine is required.

“Physicians at the clinic can use the machine at their discretion during a surgical abortion,” Munroe said. “This will improve access as it will be available to use when it is needed urgently.”

Lianne Yoshida, the medical director of the clinic, said in an email she’s happy the machine that was funded by so many donors can now be used.

She previously indicated that a so-called bedside ultrasound would improve the clinic’s services, and help doctors confirm when an early abortion is complete.

Delays obtaining ultrasounds have been cited by some women seeking abortions in Nova Scotia as a barrier to accessing the time-sensitive service, whether a surgical procedure or a medical abortion using pills.

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