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Planned Parenthood of Birmingham should have been shut down like yesterday

A September 2016 deficiency report recently released by the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) reveals that Planned Parenthood of Birmingham is still failing to offer legitimate healthcare to the women of Alabama, even after replacing several staff in 2014.

In 2014, Planned Parenthood was shut down for nearly a year after employees were caught illegally selling abortion drugs out of the parking lot.  Even worse, in what can only be seen as an attempt to hide the situation from the public, Planned Parenthood failed to notify ADPH for months after an initial decision to “temporarily close.”

Instead of notifying ADPH, as state regulation requires, Planned Parenthood just hung a sign on their front door.  ADPH was only alerted to the improper closure by chance, when one of the facility’s own patients presented at a different abortion clinic in need of care.  And, even after ADPH got involved, Planned Parenthood still managed to avoid a meeting with the state department for several more weeks.

This, of course, was not the first time Planned Parenthood of Birmingham ignored state regulations.  In 2010, the facility found itself on a year-long probation after an undercover investigation revealed that the staff was failing to report possible cases of statutory rape and child abuse.

In the ADPH inspection that followed the undercover investigation, medical records revealed serious missteps in Planned Parenthood’s dealings with minors.  For example, records revealed a 13-year-old girl who came in for two abortions within four months, each time reporting that she became sexually active at 12.  She also reported having three partners in the last year.  Planned Parenthood never inquired about possible abuse and never reported her case to law officials.

When ADPH asked one employee why she didn’t report this case, she said the 13-yr-old “never gave her any reason to think she was neglected.”

Now, a 2016 report reveals over 15 pages of deficiencies still ongoing within the walls of this troubled facility.  

Infractions include:

  • Failure to document TB and Hepatitis B screenings for employees
  • Failure to document an initial and annual review of the clinical skills of physicians
  • Repeated failure by the physician to document fetal viability outside of the uterus
  • Repeated failure to document if patients were able to view the ultrasound
  • Failure to provide discharged patients with the name of a physician in an emergency
  • Failure to provide discharged patients with a list of medications administered at the clinic
  • Failure to clean equipment between patients
  • Failure to properly sterilize medical instruments

ADPH even reports that there is “a hole in the sheet rock above the sink and paper towel dispenser where the surgical instruments are cleaned.”   When ADPH asked the Health Center Manager about the wall in obvious need of repair and jeopardizing sanitation, she stated that “she did not know what happened to the wall and that the wall had been that way since she worked at the clinic, over a year.”

Planned Parenthood of Birmingham will, of course, offer a plan of correction, which ADPH will most likely accept, and then another inspection will happen and the whole cycle will begin again.  But here’s the real question:  Why is Planned Parenthood still receiving a license from ADPH, at all?  This is not a one-time deal.  Planned Parenthood has a history of bad care.  Sloppy care.  Illegal care.  And they haven’t gotten better.  They are not being disciplined and then, through that discipline, becoming a better healthcare provider.

According to the Code of Alabama (22-21-25) ADPH may suspend or revoke a facility’s license when its “conduct or practices” are deemed to be “detrimental to the welfare of the patients of the institution.”

As of 2016, Planned Parenthood couldn’t even properly sterilize medical instruments.  Their employee didn’t even properly clean a recovery chair between patients – when an inspector was watching them do it.  What does ADPH think those employees are doing when no one is watching them?

More importantly, this last inspection showed Planned Parenthood to be non-compliant and flat out careless with patients’ lives.  Medical records show them failing to document blood loss, failing to ensure a patient received a required rhogam injection, discharging patients with no information on which drugs are in their system – these are practices that are definitely detrimental to the welfare of patients.

Imagine if your own daughter or girlfriend or sister went to Planned Parenthood and received an abortion.  And, after returning home, several hours into the night, began to hemorrhage. 

Then imagine arriving at the ER with her and when the nurse asks, “Which medications was she given,” all you can say is, “I don’t know.”  Then she asks, “Which doctor did they tell you to call to find out?” And all you can answer is, “They didn’t.”

The sad truth is, generally, a patient has to die as a result of one of these detrimental practices before state agencies will take the proper action.  In 2012, it took two women being hand-carried out of the back door of Birmingham’s New Woman All Women facility before ADPH stepped in to investigate, yielding 76 pages of deficiencies.  And even then, citizens had to fight for two more years, even through NWAW reopening illegally, to get that dangerous facility shut down.

Women of Alabama are not better off with the doors of Planned Parenthood of Birmingham open. That is a documented fact. They would be better off, and better cared for, with those doors shut, immediately and permanently.


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