Hepatitis C and obstetrical morbidity in a substance use disorder clinic: a role for telemedicine?

Cassandra J. Trammel, Shannon Beermann, Bree Goodman, Laura Marks, Melissa Mills, Michael Durkin, Nandini Raghuraman, Ebony B. Carter, Anthony O. Odibo, Amanda C. Zofkie, Jeannie C. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C infection often co-occurs with substance use disorders in pregnancy. Accessing hepatitis C treatment is challenging because of loss to follow-up in the postpartum period, attributable to social and financial barriers to care. Telemedicine has been explored as a means of increasing routine postpartum care, but the potential impact on retention in and completion of care for postpartum hepatitis C has not been assessed. OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to evaluate the impact of hepatitis C on obstetrical morbidity in a substance use disorder–specific prenatal clinic, and the effect of Infectious Disease telemedicine consultation on subsequent treatment delivery. STUDY DESIGN: We performed a retrospective cohort study of all patients in our substance use disorder prenatal clinic from June 2018 to February 2023. Telemedicine consults for hepatitis C diagnoses began in March 2020 and included electronic chart review by Infectious Disease when patients were unable to be seen. Our primary outcome was composite obstetrical morbidity (preterm birth, preeclampsia, fetal growth restriction, fetal anomaly, abruption, postpartum hemorrhage, or chorioamnionitis) compared between patients with and without active hepatitis C. We additionally evaluated rates of completed referral and initiation of hepatitis C treatment before and after implementation of telemedicine consult. RESULTS: A total of 224 patients were included. Of the 222 patients who underwent screening, 71 (32%) were positive for active hepatitis C. Compared with patients without hepatitis C, a higher proportion of patients with hepatitis C were White (80% vs 58%; P=.02), had a history of amphetamine use (61% vs 32%; P<.01), injection drug use (72% vs 38%; P<.01), or overdose (56% vs 29%; P<.01), and were on methadone (37% vs 18%; P<.01). There was no difference in the primary outcome of composite obstetrical morbidity. The rate of hepatitis C diagnosis was not statistically significantly different between the pre- and posttelemedicine cohorts (N=29 [41%], N=42 [27%]), and demographics of hepatitis C virus–positive patients were similar, with most being unemployed, single, and publicly insured. A lower proportion of patients in the posttelemedicine group reported heroin use compared with the pretelemedicine cohort (62% vs 90%; P=.013). After implementation of telemedicine, patients were more likely to attend the visit (19% vs 44%; P=.03), and positive patients were much more likely to receive treatment (14% vs 57%; P<.01); 100% of visits in the posttelemedicine group occurred via telemedicine. There were 7 patients who were prescribed treatment by their obstetrician after chart review by Infectious Disease. CONCLUSION: Patients with and without hepatitis C had similar maternal and neonatal outcomes, with multiple indicators of social and financial vulnerability. Telemedicine Infectious Disease consult was associated with increased follow-up and hepatitis C treatment, and obstetricians were able to directly prescribe. Because patients with substance use disorders and hepatitis C may have increased barriers to care, telemedicine may represent an opportunity for intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101219
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics & gynecology MFM
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024


  • barriers
  • hepatitis C
  • infectious disease
  • opioid use disorder
  • postpartum
  • substance use disorder
  • telemedicine


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