Legal Risks of Abortion Miscoding

Sravya Chary, MBE, MS, Danielle Pacia, MBE and Carmel Shachar, JD, MPH recently published a viewpoint in JAMA. In "Abortion Miscoding—Legal Risks for Clinicians and Hospital Systems," Chary et al. discuss the potential legal risks that physicians and health care facilities may face when abortions are intentionally or unintentionally miscoded in patients’ medical records. Ultimately, Chary et al. conclude that physicians should avoid engaging in abortion miscoding.

"With the expanded legal risks for clinicians and patients seeking abortion care after Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the prevalence of abortion miscoding—coding a surgical or chemical abortion as a miscarriage—is likely to increase. While some physicians may intentionally miscode to provide abortion services while avoiding criminal liability, unintentional miscoding may occur when patients conceal self-managed abortions but require follow-up care. Both well-intentioned and unintentional miscoding carry legal risks that clinicians should consider when engaging in this practice."

Read the full text on JAMA's website.