Abortion as allowed by law in Brazil is a right that is rarely enforced, due to the multiple barriers to access. Another troublesome issue related to the health system’s organization is the difficulty in obtaining reliable and easily accessible records to back monitoring and evaluation of legally authorized abortion. The current study thus aimed to analyze the patient records of women that had undergone legal abortion in the city of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul State, from 2013 to 2018 and to identify the procedure’s prevalence in the Hospital Information System (SIH). The study analyzed on site the patient files for legally permitted abortions performed in the four referral services in the city. The authors cross-analyzed the data with the database of the SIH under the Brazilian Unified National Health System (SUS). Prevalence ratio was estimated with a Poisson regression model with robust variance. Examination of the patient files identified 236 cases of legal abortion, of which 95 (40.3%) were recorded in the SIH. The cases in which the patient files contained ICD O04 (medical abortion) identified in their internal records had 3.02 times higher prevalence (95%CI: 1.83-4.98) of being recorded in the SIH than those without the ICD code. The number of records of legal abortions in the SIH differed according to the hospital. However, independently of the hospital, the fact that the internal record listed ICD O04 increased the prevalence of records in the SIH. In conclusion, the lack of standardization and under-recording hindered the collection of trustworthy information in the national database of the SUS, further increasing the invisibility of legal abortion in Brazil.
Legal Abortion; International Classification of Diseases; Information Systems; Records