Planned Parenthood patients’ lives at risk say former medical employees of the abortion giant

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Planned Parenthood of Delaware’s Wilmington clinic performed “meat-market style assembly line” abortions and put patients at risk for infection and other serious medical problems by neglecting proper standards of care, two former clinic nurses told a packed Senate hearing Wednesday.

PP NursesTestify

Meanwhile, state officials released a list of more than a dozen violations found – and subsequently addressed – during a recent investigation triggered by several emergencies at the Shipley Street clinic, in which patients were transported by ambulance to a hospital.

And the Division of Professional Regulation said it had found evidence of unspecified unprofessional conduct by Dr. Timothy Liveright, until recently the clinic’s primary physician, and that Liveright had voluntarily surrendered his license to practice medicine in the state.

Timothy Liverrite

“Dr. Timothy Liveright surrendered his license during our investigation of his practices at Planned Parenthood,” said James L. Collins, director of the division, which licenses and disciplines doctors.

“He is still subject to discipline for any acts that may have occurred while he held the license,” Collins added.

Liveright – who performed abortions when the testifying nurses worked at the clinic and during the recent emergencies – left his job there in late March, as did the medical services manager. Liveright’s license is listed as “null and void” as of April 24 on the state Division of Professional Regulation’s website.

Efforts to contact Liveright have been unsuccessful.

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The registered nurses who spoke Wednesday resigned their positions last year, and have urged state officials to address problems they said have been ignored or denied for months.
“It was an absolute nightmare,” said Jayne Mitchell-Werbrich, who quit after only a few weeks on the job.

Mitchell-Werbrich and her former supervisor, Joyce Vaskonis, told lawmakers they are not opposed to abortion – they are opposed to unsafe medical practices.
“This is not about abortion,” Mitchell-Werbrich said. “”This is about patients. Their lives are at risk.”

Among the claims the nurses made Wednesday:

• Nurses sometimes hid patient charts from the physician to ensure sufficient time for medications to take effect before procedures were done.

• Inadequate staff training. Vasikonis said no procedure manuals were available for staff, and all staff were inadequately trained.

• Abnormal lab results (to include sexually transmitted diseases) were not reported or properly followed up on.

• Sterile procedures often were not followed and surgical suites and recovery rooms were inadequately cleaned between patients.

• Patient complications were not reported.

• RhoGAM – a necessary treatment for abortion patients who have RH-negative blood – often was missed, endangering that patient if she conceived in the future by a father with RH-positive blood.

• Some supplies were beyond expiration dates and some emergency equipment was no longer functional.

• Staff medical credentials were not verified.

• The physician once left medicated patients in the middle of an abortion waiting for hours while he tended to an issue with his private airplane.

Sen. Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley, who convened the ad hoc hearing with Sen. Robert Venables, D-Laurel, said he was shocked to learn of “horrible patient care,” lack of response to the nurses’ concerns and inadequate state response to their complaints.

A review by the state Division of Public Health, the results of which were released Wednesday, found 14 kinds of violations at the clinic, including inadequate documentation of narcotics, supplies that had exceeded expiration dates, lax practices to ensure sterility, unlabeled bottles of fluid and overdue or uncertain maintenance records.

In a letter dated April 24 – the same day Liveright’s license to practice medicine in the state became null and void – Division Director Dr. Karyl Rattay said the clinic had 10 days to correct the violations, produce evidence that the problems had been addressed and present a plan to prevent those problems from reoccurring.

Planned Parenthood suspended all surgical abortions at its Delaware facilities last month. Last week, it resumed the procedures, Planned Parenthood CEO Ruth Lytle-Barnaby said.

In a letter of response to the state dated May 22, Lytle-Barnaby said policies had been modified, equipment replaced, expired supplies removed and personnel retrained, with more training to come.

Lytle-Barnaby said staff completed an inventory of all supplies and that inventory-control policies and procedures have been changed.

Planned Parenthood officials said they could not address specific allegations made by the former nurses because of privacy laws.

But in a prepared statement, Lytle-Barnaby said the nurses’ allegations are not substantiated by the state report.

“In recent days, the Delaware Division of Public Health has stated that they have concluded their recent survey of our health centers and that we have complied in areas that were noted in their last unannounced visit,” she said. “The findings of the recent survey were immediately rectified. While it is important to adhere to every medical regulation, the Division of Public Health findings do not in any way support the allegations of former employees who are now working with organizations whose mission is to oppose our services.”

Venables said he’s likely to refile legislation that would allow the state to more closely monitor abortion clinics operating in Delaware and establish criminal and civil penalties for violating the proposed law. The bill, which came with a $200,000 annual price tag, failed in a Democratic-controlled Senate committee in 2011. Venables said there has been “too much trust put in Planned Parenthood.”

“I’m not a person that believes in a lot of regulation,” Venables said. “In fact, I don’t like a lot of regulation. But in this case it’s well-needed because it’s proof positive that they don’t regulate themselves.”

Venables said the state provided about $400,000 in funding to Planned Parenthood last year – an allocation lawmakers might want to reconsider in the future.

Recent legislation empowered the Division of Public Health to set standards and enforce safe and sanitary conditions, and Department of Health and Social Services spokeswoman Jill Fredel said the division now has the authority to survey facilities when a patient complains or an “adverse event” occurs. The department also has authority to require accreditation of medical facilities, similar to the accreditation required of Delaware hospitals.

A draft of new regulations for all facilities providing any level of anesthesia and performing invasive procedures is pending but not yet in force.

Planned Parenthood of Delaware has been accredited by the Planned Parenthood Foundation, which both nurses said was too cozy an arrangement.

“My experience has been Planned Parenthood of Delaware feels they are above question or scrutiny as to whether they actually provide adequate care or follow the law,” Vasikonis said.

Ellen Barrosse, national committeewoman for the Delaware Republican Party who founded the anti-abortion campaign known as “A Rose And A Prayer,” was in the audience Wednesday. No one should decide what to do next, she said, until they hear more voices.

“I’d like to see another hearing where we hear from women who received abortions and were abused,” she said. “Until more women come forward and tell their stories, nobody should decide what happens next. There should be an open conversation – as a community.”

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