LINCOLN — Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has filed a medical disciplinary petition against a registered nurse employed by the Bellevue abortion clinic run by Dr. LeRoy Carhart.
The petition accuses Lindsey Creekmore, the sole registered nurse employed at the clinic since April 30, 2011, of administering incorrect intravenous dosages of sedatives and a labor-inducing drug to 11 patients between January 2011 and March 2012.
The complaint does not indicate whether any of the patients were injured or hospitalized as a result of the incorrect dosages.
The complaint also alleges that the clinic did not routinely staff its recovery room with licensed medical staff, in violation of a rule that prohibits a registered nurse from delegating complex nursing care to unlicensed staff.
Creekmore is scheduled for a disciplinary hearing Aug. 5.
“Clinic records show a significant pattern of substandard care practices that, in any surgical center, would endanger the health and safety of the public,” Bruning said. “We are seeking license revocation.”
Neither Creekmore nor Carhart returned calls to The World-Herald on Wednesday.
Abortion opponents, led by the national office of Operation Rescue, had filed two complaints since last May asking Bruning to investigate the operation of Carhart's clinic.
Based on undercover video investigations and observations by sidewalk protesters, the abortion opponents said they suspected Carhart was performing abortions past Nebraska's statutory limit of 20 weeks' gestation.
Bruning did not reveal whether his investigation was prompted by the abortion foes' complaints.
The disciplinary complaint makes no allegations regarding violations of Nebraska's law barring abortion after 20 weeks. Rather, it alleges that the nurse administered more frequent and sometimes larger doses of sedatives than authorized under the clinic's standing orders covering IV sedation.
The disciplinary complaint, filed with the Public Health Division of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the attorney general's investigation was reviewed by the Nebraska Board of Nursing, which made a recommendation for discipline.
Terms of the recommendation are confidential under state law.
Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, said the disciplinary allegations demonstrate that state lawmakers need to enact stricter regulations for Nebraska abortion clinics.
“Because Nebraska's abortion facilities are not subject to regular inspection, this type of activity will continue to fly under the radar, posing risks to women's health,” she said.
State health regulations call for Nebraska clinics to be inspected at least once every five years.
Each of the three abortion clinics in Nebraska has been inspected within the past five years.
According to records obtained Wednesday, the newest clinic, a facility opened in northwest Omaha by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, was inspected three times in 2011. The first, in February, was an initial inspection in response to the clinic's opening.
The second, in April, was triggered by its adding more procedures to those available at the clinic.
The third, in September, was triggered by a complaint that the clinic did not secure proper consent for abortion, did not obtain medical history before proceeding and did not release medical records upon a patient's request.
The complaints were not substantiated after an inspection of the clinic and its records.
Carhart's facility, the Bellevue Health Center, was last investigated in December 2009, based upon complaints that unlicensed staff were providing complex nursing care and that the facility was not following infection control guidelines for its equipment.
Those complaints were not substantiated, but inspectors required the clinic to correct a number of other deficiencies in its procedures, such as ensuring that patients are informed of their rights conducting criminal background checks of potential employees and developing a quality assurance program and a disaster preparedness plan.
A Planned Parenthood facility in Lincoln was last inspected in March 2008, based upon complaints that patients weren't properly assessed before they were allowed to leave the facility after a procedure, about staff qualifications and the handling of medications.
The clinic changed its procedures to ensure all charts documented that patients' conditions are checked before they can depart and that out-of-date medications are promptly discarded. The allegation of unqualified staff was not substantiated.
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