“Alice convulsed for an hour while Gosnell and the staff refused to allow her companion to leave the clinic to get help”

Editor’s note. Abortionist Kermit Gosnell is charged with eight counts of murder. In “How Did This Go On So Long?” the report demonstrates conclusively that agencies had been aware for years of all the violations the Grand Jury documents in its 261-page report and flatly decided not to do any serious investigation.

Other Department of State prosecutors also failed to act against Gosnell.

Greenwald and Hartwell were not the only state Board of Medicine attorneys who failed to take appropriate action against Gosnell. In September 2005, a plaintiff’s attorney sent a copy of a malpractice complaint he had filed against Gosnell to the Department of State. The case involved a patient we will call “Alice.” She had suffered a seizure after Gosnell administered anesthesia to her in a procedure room as he prepared to perform an abortion in March 2005. Alice had notified clinic staff that she was undergoing methadone treatment and that she had received her daily methadone dose before the procedure. The lawsuit alleged that, despite this warning, Gosnell gave her a medication that was clearly contraindicated for people on methadone, triggering a seizure.

According to the complaint, Alice told Gosnell to stop the medication when she started to have a reaction, but Gosnell ignored her and continued the IV injection. Alice began to convulse and fell off of the procedure table, striking her head. A companion who had accompanied Alice to the clinic was summoned to the procedure room to assist. He found the patient naked and convulsing on the floor and asked that someone call 911. When Gosnell denied his request, the companion attempted to leave the clinic to summon help. The complaint alleges that the doors were locked and the staff refused to let him out. As a result, Alice convulsed for an hour while Gosnell and the staff refused to allow her companion to leave the clinic to get help. Finally, Gosnell permitted the companion to go get some methadone to administer. The additional methadone stopped the convulsions.

On May 4, 2006, David Grubb, another prosecuting attorney for the Board of Medicine, recommended closing the file without any investigation or prosecution. Grubb closed the case without interviewing Alice, her companion, Gosnell, or any of his staff members. Grubb apparently ignored altogether a suggestion contained in the plaintiff’s attorney’s letter that Gosnell was not insured at the time of the procedure – a clear violation of law. The plaintiff’s attorney pointed out that Gosnell had answered the complaint himself, without benefit of a lawyer, which was not customary if the doctor had insurance. Grubb’s supervisor, Senior Prosecutor-in-Charge Andrew Kramer, approved of closing the case without investigation on May 16, 2006.

On June 9, 2006, Grubb wrote to Gosnell informing him that the Department of State had decided that no further investigation was warranted. The prosecutor thanked Gosnell “for forwarding a copy of the complaint” to the department, even though the only copy of the complaint in the file had been provided by the plaintiff’s attorney. The documents turned over to the Grand Jury suggest that Gosnell once again violated the MCARE law by failing to report Alice’s lawsuit. But, again, the prosecuting attorneys with the Board of Medicine either did not notice or did not care.

Aside from the obvious reporting violation, had Grubb simply checked to see if Gosnell was insured in March 2005, he would have found out that he was not. Grubb would also have discovered that a colleague at the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, Prosecuting Attorney William Newport, had been handling another complaint about Gosnell’s lack of insurance coverage. On August 2, 2005, a “Compliance Coordinator” for the MCARE Fund had notified the Department of State that Gosnell was not in compliance with the MCARE law’s requirement that doctors carry liability insurance. On September 28, 2005, and again on July 5, 2006, Prosecuting Attorney Newport wrote to Gosnell, requesting that the doctor respond to the complaint that he was non-compliant with MCARE’s liability insurance requirements.

On July 20, 2006, Gosnell’s insurance agent sent a response to a Department of State paralegal, asserting that Gosnell was covered from 1998 through 2003. For the next two years, the paralegal, at Newport’s request, kept checking with various compliance officers at the MCARE Fund to ascertain whether Gosnell was compliant. The answer was always no. Nevertheless, on September 5, 2008, the paralegal followed Newport’s instructions and recommended closing the file. The file was closed without any meaningful investigation.

Had Newport conducted a real investigation, or subpoenaed documents, he would have discovered what Sherilyn Gillespie, the Department of State investigator, found out in 2010 – that Gosnell was not insured at all between July 15, 2004, and April 18, 2005.

Thus, had either of two Board of Medicine prosecutors investigated the complaint made by Alice’s attorney, they would have discovered Gosnell’s blatant violation of the MCARE law. They would have learned, as Gillespie did in May 2010, that Gosnell was operating without insurance when Alice had gone to him for an abortion in March 2005, and that Gosnell had told his insurance agent that he was practicing only in Delaware at the time Alice had her seizure at his clinic.

Unfortunately, like the other prosecuting attorneys working for the Department of State’s Board of Medicine, neither Grubb nor Newport investigated or resolved the complaints that continued to pile up against Gosnell.

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