Unsafe Texas Abortion Clinic Blames Health Inspectors for Being There

Every once in a while the Pro-Life Action League comes across an abortion clinic inspection report in which the clinic shows what could be termed “attitude.”

While most facilities show at least some remorse when they’re caught violating laws or regulations and describe how they plan to prevent it from occurring again (in what is termed the “Plan of Correction”), occasionally an abortion clinic will lash out at the state for having the audacity to inspect them in the first place.

On November 1, 2016, inspectors from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) visited the Austin Women’s Health Center to conduct the facility’s periodic Relicensure Survey and found numerous violations. (Note: This was the most current inspection report available for this facility.)

Of the abortion clinic’s four employees, two were observed violating infection control standards. One left her contaminated gloves on her hands after cleaning an examination table, then proceeded to rearrange items on a counter and handle a pre-filled syringe of medication…while still wearing the contaminated gloves.

Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness

Another employee in the “Product of Conception Room” — yes, that’s actually what it’s called — was observed cleaning instruments post-procedure and examining the products of conception (that is, the remains of an abortion victim). This employee likewise failed to remove her contaminated gloves before proceeding to a counter where she picked up a pen and started writing on a pathology form.

Typically, an abortion clinic’s Plan of Correction will state that the facility’s policy and procedure manual would be updated (if necessary), that employees have been retrained in infection control and been deemed competent, that there would be spot checks during the next three months to verify compliance, and that orientation materials would be modified (if needed) to ensure that training in infection prevention is thorough.

But in this case, the abortion clinic chose to respond in a manner that could best be described as petulant.

First, they actually argued that the employees’ conduct did not violate any facility policy. Think about that for a minute.

Universal precautions include not wearing contaminated gloves while touching clean surfaces, even if not stated in those exact words. Not all situations that may arise can be specifically spelled out in regulations.  But if failing to remove one’s contaminated gloves before touching a clean surface did not violate policy, then the policy needs to change.

The facility then proceeded to blame the health inspectors. You can’t make this stuff up.

Here’s what the abortion clinic’s plan of correction said: “The presence and demeanor of the surveyors intimidated Center Assistant #4 and distracted her from her work.”  In other words: The health inspectors’ very presence in the abortion clinic constituted a microaggression.

After blaming the inspectors for the violation, the abortion clinic’s “Plan of Correction” is for the Administrator to “instruct all staff members that they should not permit DSHS surveyors to distract or intimidate them and that they should always adhere to protocol notwithstanding questions or demands made by surveyors.”  Oh, and they also agreed that the Administrator would instruct all staff members to remove gloves before filling out forms, “[a]lthough it is not specified in the cited regulation.”

Abortion Clinic Carelessly Ignores the Danger of Failing to Secure Drugs

The other violation cited was related to the (lack of) security concerning the facility’s drugs. While not narcotics, many prescription-only drugs were left in an unsecured area along a hallway within two (2) feet of where patients sit for assessments and vital signs. The crash cart was also unlocked.

Stunningly, an employee “revealed she thought it was ok to leave medications unlocked if there was staff in the hallways.” But just because an abortion clinic employee thinks it’s OK does not make it OK—and it’s not hard to see why.

The obvious danger of theft by patients—or staff—is impossible to understate. And it certainly wouldn’t be the first time that drugs had “gone missing” from an abortion clinic.

A typical Plan of Correction would acknowledge that the drugs should be secured, mention any needed policy and procedure changes and ensure that in-services be conducted to train staff regarding same, and follow up with verification that the new protocol is implemented consistently in the coming months.

But instead, the Austin Women’s abortion clinic started out by arguing that the Statement of Deficiency failed to identify which state or federal law(s) had been violated.  They reference federal law pertaining to controlled substances (even though the drugs in question were not, in fact, controlled substances) and they reference a Medicare/Medicaid requirement that they need not comply with since they accept neither. That being done, they assume no other rules apply to them.

Then the abortion clinic argued that during previous surveys, DSHS inspectors had observed medications in the same area and hitherto never cited them. That may or may not be true, but even if  it is, it’s no excuse. Finally, they end by conceding that they will “store the medications in a closet that can be locked, when appropriate, from now on.” This sounds as if the abortion clinic merely intends to lock up their drugs at night. That would maintain the status quo, but only the next inspection will show what actually happens.

For years the abortion industry has complained endlessly about “burdensome” and “politically motivated” calls for greater regulation.  But when you’re brazen enough to play the victim and claim that obvious violations of basic health care practices are acceptable, it illustrates that the abortion industry can never be trusted to police itself.

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