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Abortion clinic search found patient care issues

PHOENIX — Planned Parenthood of Arizona is disputing state health
investigators’ allegations that several record-keeping and patient-care
shortcomings were found during a February search of its Glendale abortion

The clinic didn’t provide required licensing and certification records for two
nurses and a health aide and did not perform required laboratory and ultrasound
tests on a patient, according to a Department of Health Services statement of
deficiencies record obtained by The Associated Press under a public records
request. The clinic also didn’t properly monitor the woman’s vital signs in the
recovery room.

But Planned Parenthood President Bryan Howard said clinic staff had all the
required licenses and certifications, and they have now been provided to the
Arizona Health Services Department. Howard also said in an interview Friday that
the clinic properly monitored the patient and had the proper tests performed.

Howard wants all the allegations withdrawn.

Snap inspections of abortion clinics in Arizona are only allowed with a search
warrant, but a bill awaiting action in the Arizona Senate would remove that
requirement. Planned Parenthood has questioned the timing of the warrant served
on Feb. 10, the only one ever sought by the health department, because it came
just days before House Bill 2284 had its first committee hearing.

Health Services denies that there is any link between the legislation and the
search, which was prompted by a report on an abortion complication Planned
Parenthood itself submitted in April 2013.

Spokeswoman Laura Oxley said last month the agency originally planned to obtain
a warrant in November, but it was delayed, in part to ensure that a team of
inspectors was available to do the search. Oxley said the initial report was
considered a low priority but worthy of eventual follow-up. The request for a
warrant, however, said “it was imperative” that the agency be given
unannounced and immediate access to Planned Parenthood’s Glendale clinic for a

During the search, Health Services staff hauled off records of policies,
compliance audits and a corrective action plan dated May 8, 2013. It also
obtained records of two patients.

Howard said the staff records the health department cited as lacking would have
been provided if inspectors had requested them. Instead, he said inspectors with
a warrant seized “reams and reams” of documents.

“If we had known with any reasonable level of specificity what they were
looking for, we would have been able to provide that documentation on the day
they were there,” Howard said.

Howard also said staff properly monitored the patient in the recovery room,
checking her vital signs every 15 minutes until she was stable, then less
frequently as more time passed. He said the monitoring “deficiencies” were not
based on state regulations, but on investigators’ improper reading of the
clinic’s own policies.

He also said the health department’s finding that the clinic didn’t do required
ultrasounds or laboratory tests was incorrect.

“We took labs and ultrasound images multiple times during the course of the
care of our patient, far beyond what is required by law.” Howard said. “And
the labs and ultrasound that are regulated are the ones required before the
procedure, which are documented and in the chart.”

Planned Parenthood asked for a dispute-resolution meeting with Health Services
officials, including Director Will Humble, in a letter dated April 2. That
meeting has not yet been set.

Providers that receive notices of deficiencies often go through the
dispute-resolution process, said Connie Belden, the department’s bureau chief
for medical facilities licensing. The bureau inspected about 2,400 sites last
year and many end up with items that need to be addressed.

The original statement of deficiencies is not final until all disputes and
appeals are complete, and it could be changed or withdrawn completely. Such
notices can result in civil penalties or even license revocations.


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