Austin Women's Health Center Blog&Inspiration

Benefits of Visiting an Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic

September 19, 2022
Benefits of EPAC

At Austin Women’s Health Center, we now offer early pregnancy assessment services. An Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic (EPAC) provides care specifically for those in early pregnancy that may be experiencing issues such as pregnancy loss, ectopic pregnancy, and symptoms such as spotting, bleeding, or cramping. EPACs offer specialized care for these sensitive complications. Early pregnancy complications are common and occur in about 15% to 20% of all pregnancies. 

With an Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic in your area, you can receive prompt and compassionate care with respect for your choices without visiting an emergency room. We are proud to offer the first local Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic in Austin.  Though other countries have benefited from Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinics for years, they are a relatively new concept in the United States. It wasn’t until 2017 that the first known Early Pregnancy Clinic in America opened in Denver, Colorado. 

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Obstetricians and Gynaecology Canada collected data over ten years  and found that the EPAC model improved efficiency and care for early pregnancy complications. EPACs are a much-needed healthcare service where people can receive tailored support during a pivotal time.

Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinics Compared to ERs

Heading to the emergency room in early pregnancy, up to 12 weeks, can cause a significant financial burden, create stress, and pose some limitations in care. In the study mentioned above, patients were more satisfied with the emotional support they received after going to an EPAC. In an emergency room, there is less tailored and less follow-up care. 

The study also found that patients reported improved satisfaction when follow-up care was closer to a miscarriage that addressed feelings and concerns. At AWHC, we want patients to feel supported from the second they enter the door. With faster evaluations, we acknowledge that there is generally alleviated anxiety. Our staff will meet you with supportive care each step of the way. 

A 2020 study, also published in the Journal of Obstetricians and Gynaecology Canada, examined the effects of EPACs on those who have experienced miscarriage and found that outcomes around visiting an emergency room versus an EPAC varied—those who went to the ER were more likely to opt for surgery as opposed to expectant (waiting for a miscarriage to occur naturally) or medical management. Those who visited EPACs were more likely to receive care that supported their therapeutic choices. 

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Emergency Nursing looked at pregnancy loss management in emergency rooms and found that although they were well-equipped with clinical recommendations, psychological and emotional support was addressed infrequently. In the US, 15-20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage each year, and most miscarriages happen in the first trimester. Early pregnancy loss is common and not your fault. Receiving sensitive care during this time is paramount. 

EPACs deliver care that is closer to home, more supportive, and generally faster than visiting an ER. In addition, EPAC services are all outpatient, and care is higher quality, safe, and well-received by those who seek services. EPAC models may also be more cost-effective than hospital visits. 

We know that an Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic is desperately needed for our community, and we are proud to be the first to offer it. 

Early Pregnancy Assessment Services

At AWHC, we offer the following services:

  • Same-day or next-day gynecologic consult regarding spotting, bleeding, and/or cramping in early pregnancy
  • Transvaginal or abdominal ultrasound and lab assessment
  • Early diagnosis of miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy
  • Medical management of early pregnancy loss using Mifepristone and Misoprostol
  • In-office surgical management of early pregnancy loss
  • In-office surgical management of fetal demise in first and second trimesters
  • Grief and loss counseling
  • Referrals for continued prenatal care with an obstetrician

What to Expect When You Visit AWHC’s Early Pregnancy Assessment Clinic

Patients with a history of early pregnancy loss, ectopic pregnancy, or who are experiencing spotting, bleeding, and/or cramping before their first prenatal appointment can schedule an evaluation at AWHC without a referral.

At AWHC, you can expect to receive compassionate care, where we will discuss any available options. You can also expect to meet with a doctor the same or the next day. We will provide any necessary testing or ultrasounds. In addition, we offer assessment, management, counseling, and referrals for care. Once we have gone over relevant assessments and medical information, we will devise a plan for care with you. 

Complications during early pregnancy can feel distressing; patients deserve to be met with sensitive care. Therefore, we aim to make the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment as smooth a process as possible. 

By going to an EPAC, you can circumvent wait times, the financial burden, and the stress of going to an emergency room. 

We understand this can be a difficult time and will meet you with compassion. We will fully inform you each step of the way.