Research Explores Emergency Nurses’ Decision-Making in Obstetrical Care

September 7, 2023 JEN journal of emergency nursing

Journal of Emergency Nursing features first paper to address topic post-Dobbs decision

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (Sept. 7, 2023) – Emergency nurses need additional knowledge of abortion-limiting legislation as well as the related clinical, ethical and legal implications for both emergency care staff and their patients, a study published in the September issue of the Journal of Emergency Nursing found.

The findings also call attention to the increase in pregnant patients seeking care in emergency departments as the number of “OB deserts”—regions with limited or absent perinatal care—grows. Through interviews with ED nurses, the study explored the clinical decision-making processes of emergency nurses caring for patients with obstetrical emergencies in the context of limited or no access to abortion care.

What If It Were Me? A Qualitative Exploratory Study of Emergency Nurses’ Clinical Decision Making Related to Obstetrical Emergencies in the Context of a Post-Roe Environment,” reflects the candid comments of nurses who work in states with care-limiting legislation describing a lack of hospital protocols, concerns about delayed care, and overall discomfort treating patients experiencing obstetric emergencies. The study was led by Lisa Wolf, PhD, RN, CEN, FAEN, FAAN, associate professor at UMass Amherst Elaine Marieb College of Nursing.

“This was an important study to conduct. First, laws surrounding access to appropriate care for patients having pregnancy emergencies have been in flux in large areas of the country. Second, EDs are seeing more and more obstetric emergencies in communities where no OB services are available,” said Wolf, who is also Director, Emergency Nursing Research at ENA. “Emergency nurses are not commonly trained in identifying and treating OB emergencies.”

The Journal of Emergency Nursing, ENA’s peer-reviewed academic journal, is published six times a year with original research and updates from the emergency nursing specialty, while also covering practice and professional issues.

“This study is an excellent example the current and relevant research nurses conduct that assess and explain the ways policies and laws impact EDs,” said Anna Valdez, Ph.D., RN, PHN, CEN, CFRN, CNE,  FAEN, FAADN, JEN editor-in-chief.

The September issue can be found online here. Other topics in the latest issue include mislabeled specimen occurrence; management of pediatric mental and behavioral health emergencies; traumatic and routine stressors in emergency nurses; and ED overcrowding plans.


The Emergency Nurses Association is the premier professional nursing association dedicated to defining the future of emergency nursing through advocacy, education, research, innovation, and leadership. Founded in 1970, ENA has proven to be an indispensable resource to the global emergency nursing community. With 50,000 members worldwide, ENA advocates for patient safety, develops industry-leading practice standards and guidelines and guides emergency health care public policy. ENA members have expertise in triage, patient care, disaster preparedness, and all aspects of emergency care. Additional information is available at

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