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Majority of Abortion Clinics Go Uninspected, Others Reveal Disturbing Violations


New York–April 8…The New York State Health Department has failed to inspect the majority of the state’s estimated 225 abortion clinics and several of the clinics that have been inspected were cited for cringeworthy violations, according to Freedom of Information Law documents obtained by the Chiaroscuro Foundation.

Over the course of more than a decade, there were zero inspections of unlicensed clinics offering abortion services and of the state’s 25 licensed clinics, eight of those clinics were not inspected at all. A mere 45 inspections were conducted over that time period and no clinics were inspected on an annual basis.

The 17 clinics that did receive inspections revealed disturbing violations, including an Anesthesiologist cited for relying on a broken monitor to assess the patient’s vital signs, failure to ensure a registered professional nurse is present in the recovery room to monitor post-operative patients and unsanitary practices of reusing suction tubing for aspiration of human contents. The State Health Department has refused to disclose the names of the clinics who committed violations, making it impossible for women to know which clinics are sanitary and safe.

“These revelations are very concerning,” said Greg Pfundstein, President of The Chiaroscuro Foundation. “It doesn’t matter where you stand on the issue of abortion, this is a gross failure of our public health system and puts women’s safety at risk. It’s absurd that restaurants and tanning salons are routinely inspected, yet the State Health Department has completely abdicated its responsibility to monitor providers of medical procedures that involve anesthesia. This demands answers and corrective action.”

There were 1,145,261 abortions performed in New York City from 2000-2012 a total of 1,515,108 in New York State from 2000-2012.

Below is a sampling of several of the violations:

  • Failure to ensure that medical personnel are properly credentialed.
  • Failure to ensure that a qualified pathologist examine tissues removed during the abortion and that fetal remains and tissue are properly labeled as required by law.
  • Failure to ensure that a registered professional nurse is present in the recovery room to ensure continual monitoring and observation for all post-operative patients.
  • Unsanitary practice of reusing and reprocessing suction tubing for aspiration of human contents, which is clearly inconsistent with the product label which stipulates that it is a disposable device intended for single use.
  • Anesthesiologist cited for relying on a broken monitor to continuously assess the patient’s
    cardiac status, vital signs, and oxygen saturation. The anesthesiologist failed to report the broken equipment to the appropriate staff.
  • Sink in the laboratory is inappropriately used for cleaning and during procedures. Medication, mixing, hand washing, urine disposal and speculum cleaning are all done in the same sink.
  • Autoclave (Sterilizing Machine) was not quality checked on a regular basis.
  • Sterilized forceps and cuvettes kept stored beyond the storage life of six months.
  • Automated External Defibrillator not functioning and/or with outdated pads or
  • Staff screening for tuberculosis had not been performed; no current staff health
    assessment in place.
  • There was no separately enclosed soiled and clean utility room to ensure adequate infection control. This includes the inability to ensure negative pressure in soiled utility areas. Surgical sterile equipment was stored in the same area as non-sterile equipment.

The Chiaroscuro Foundation submitted a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Request to the New York State Department of Health on April 11th, 2013. The Foundation requested inspection records since January 1st, 2000 for both Article 28 licensed diagnostic treatment centers that perform abortions and facilities that offer abortion services but are not licensed under Article 28. Additionally, the Foundation requested all records of any violations that were found during such inspections and the corrective/enforcement actions that were taken to remedy them. The state refused to release the name and location of the clinics that they inspected.