Abortion Center Violations

In 2012, Virginia Department of Health officials for the first time in decades began regular inspections of Virginia’s abortion centers.  After the industry had argued for years that their facilities were clean and safe and needed no over site, the truth was finally revealed.  Initial inspections found hundreds of health and safety violations, many of which put patient health at risk. Follow up inspections continued to reveal even more violations.  No abortion center was free of violations.

Despite this, Governor Terry McAuliffe made it a priority of his administration to protect the abortion industry from meeting basic health and safety standards.

The following is a small sample of just a handful of the violations found in Virginia abortion centers during the past five years.  This is by no means a complete list as there are hundreds of pages of inspection reports uncovering hundreds and hundreds of health and safety violations. 

Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic

7/19/12: Staff member related that the physician for the clinic "never washes his hands, he always uses gloves" and further exclaimed "Oh! That is gross!" upon hearing that some of the gloves could possibly have had holes in them. This problem persisted in the 3/27/13 inspection during which the inspectors found no hygiene policy documented or practiced.

Numerous drugs that were in use were expired, and some of the drugs that were expired can cause death if used improperly. The facility additionally lacked procedures for verifying the credentials of operating physicians. Moreover, the facility had no procedures for processing complaints.

Annandale Women and Family Center

8/15/2012: On a review of the owner’s, who is a nurse practitioner, the administrator's, who is a registered nurse, the CRNA, and the physicians' credentials revealed no verification of their respective licenses. Furthermore, the facility failed to run criminal background checks on any of the nurses responsible for handling controlled substances. Staff left IV fluid unsealed for unknown period of time and asked the inspector whether they should have “disposed of these bags after they were opened?" The surveyor asked when the bags were removed from the protective bag covering and the administrator stated, "I don't know."

Sponges for cleaning tissue from instruments were reused. Several pages from the narcotic sign out log book were observed containing scribbled out amounts, dates, and names. On one page the entire line was covered with white out.

Roanoke Medical Center for Women

6/8/16: Facility failed to ensure that mandated employees were aware of the requirement and how to report suspected child abuse or neglect. The facility was further unable to locate any evidence staff had received training regarding the reporting of child abuse or neglect. During an interview with Staff #1...the staff was unsure how they were to report, and to whom they were to report any concern to. In 2014, The Family Foundation discovered from inspection reports that the Roanoke Medical Center for Women performed abortions on three minors without parental consent.  At least two of the girls were only 14 years old. A follow-up investigation showed that neither the abortion center nor public health officials with VDH reported the cases of potential child abuse. The Roanoke facility sits along the I-81 corridor, a zone known for sex trafficking. In response, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring reversed at least two previous Attorney General Opinions and absolved abortion center employees of their legal responsibility to report potential cases of child sexual abuse.

The facility also failed to properly disinfect environmental surfaces that are frequently touched or come into close contact to patients as required to prevent/control transmission of a potentially infectious agent and to ensure the process for storing regulated medical waste was done in a manner to follow the regulations. A large amount of blood was observed on shelf#1 of the metal cart and did not properly clean it.

Charlottesville Medical Center for Women

7/10/14: Public health officials discovered that the doctor at the facility has been dispensing narcotics without a current valid DEA license – which was two years expired, and staff at the facility improperly interacted with and kept no records of Schedule II narcotics (Fentanyl), and transported drugs with no accountability or license – all violations of state and federal drug laws. 

An unlicensed staff member was found drawing up Fentanyl (a narcotic analgesic) and Versed into a syringe. The member then attended a physician in a procedure in which the unlicensed staff member provided the controlled substances to the physician without any discussion as to the contents of the syringe containing the substances or the drawing of the substances. The unlicensed staff member stated that he/she regularly “drew up” the Fentanyl and Versed for the administration by the physician. When asked how long the unlicensed staff member had been drawing up medication for the doctor during procedures, the staff member stated that is has been for twenty (20) years. The unlicensed staff member was asked if he/she was a licensed medical professional, and he/she said, “no.” In addition, the facility failed to keep records of all drugs in Schedules I-V received, sold, administered, dispensed or otherwise disposed of. Staff at the facility failed to ask patients if they were allergic to any drugs, and failed to take vital signs prior to administering a Schedule II narcotic.  The facility also had no one trained in advanced cardiac life support if a woman had an adverse reaction to the narcotic administered.       

Planned Parenthood of Blue Ridge (Roanoke)

7/20/12: Procedure table had “various colorations of dried blood” on it. Staff removed table’s support cushion, and the cushion edge closest to the main part of the table had multiple areas of dried blood. The undercarriage of the…cushion had multiple areas where blood had dripped and ran down the undercarriage. The accumulation of dried blood varied in coloration and thickness.

Upon review of employee files, four out of four employees with access to narcotics failed to provide criminal record checks as required by law. Audit revealed that at least one employee had not had a single performance review in over 3 years since being hired. The facility lacked a policy or procedure for reporting licensed and certified staff or incidents of inappropriate behavior to the Board of Nursing or Board of Medicine, as required by law.

Much of the facility equipment was expired, including tracheal tubes used to provide a patient with an open airway (over 8 years expired); Angiocath gauges used to start a patients intravenous line (12 years expired); examination room sutures (expired for years); and vacuum curettes used to dilate the cervix during a procedure. No policy or procedure for reporting patient, staff or visitor deaths within 24 hours after occurrence, as required by law.  

Virginia League for Planned Parenthood

8/25/15: 63 days since initial abortion procedure, a patient was seen at an Outpatient Emergency Center and was transferred to and admitted to a nearby hospital. The hospital ultrasound revealed that the patient had a threatened second trimester pregnancy of 17 weeks and 4 days with a heartbeat of 160-166 beats per minutes, despite Planned Parenthood having claimed to have performed abortion procedure on her 63 days earlier. The following day, the patient had a therapeutic abortion performed at the hospital.  (Read more here)

Medical records for three of the patients lacked signatures, written or electronic, of the attending physician for the standing orders during the first trimester abortions. The orders were not noted by a nurse. One of the orders required the attending nurse to make a decision regarding the amount of medication to administer which is beyond the nurse’s scope of practice.

Violations of Closed/Suspended Clinics

Planned Parenthood of Metro Washington D.C. (Falls Church)
Facility Closed

6/29/12: Staff members failed to verify medications they were mixing. Employee failed to clean the top of vials prior to puncturing. According to the employee: “You could lick the tops of the vials and the infection rate would be the same.” An inspection report in October of 2014 revealed that the facility had administered an abortion on a 17 year old without obtaining the consent and signature of a parent or guardian.                                                                                                                   

Virginia Health Group (Fairfax)
Facility License Suspended and Subsequently Ceased Operating

4/5/16: Sterile suturing equipment and supplies were not available when a patient experienced prolonged bleeding after a procedure and the patient had to be transported to the local emergency department for care.

When the surveyor said he needed to verify a staff member’s credentials, the staff member replied, "I am a doctor so I am qualified” and stated further that “I have passed all my tests but I do not have a license..."

When the surveyor attempted to open the cabinet to view the contents in exam room one, the door fell off.  In the bottom of this cabinet was a blue chux (pad) which had debris and dried brown material (betadine) that had leaked all over the pad. 

The ultrasound machine was dusty and contained areas of debris which was yellowish and brown in color. The area where the ultrasound probe was kept had a wadded paper towel which appeared to have dried material on it.  The keyboard was also dusty and contained debris and dried splatters of some foreign material. (p. 21)

A staff member held up their gown after an examination, looked at it, and proceeded to hang it on the back of the door for future use stating "Oh it's not that bad", referring to the amount of blood on the gown. (p. 22)

After plunging a toilet and carrying the plunger with gloves on, the staff member entered the exam room where they stood beside the patient and held the patient’s hand during the procedure without changing scrubs or gloves.