“The evidence that clinic staff locked Ms. Haynes’s cousins out of the facility to cover up the fact that Gosnell had seriously injured the patient – and thereby prevented getting her help – was even more serious.”
Editor’s note. Abortionist Kermit Gosnell is charged with eight counts of murder. In the section “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 but that no thought the complaints were “worth investigating.”
When Gosnell applied to renew his medical license in December 2008, he indicated, as he was required to, that a civil malpractice lawsuit had been filed against him in November 2008. He had not sent a copy of the complaint to the Board of Medicine, as required by MCARE, but he eventually did so after it was requested. The lawsuit was brought by Dana Haynes, who had gone to Gosnell for an abortion on November 11, 2006. The complaint alleged that Gosnell had performed the abortion in a reckless manner, tearing Haynes’s cervix, uterus, and bowel. It asserted that after performing the botched abortion, Gosnell failed to call an ambulance and, instead, kept her waiting at the clinic for four hours, bleeding and in severe pain. Haynes accused Gosnell of placing her life in jeopardy in order to cover up his negligence.
The complaint stated that Haynes bled extensively for a long time and had to be hospitalized. At the hospital, doctors discovered that Gosnell had not completed the abortion and had left fetal parts inside Haynes. Her injuries required extensive surgery. On April 20, 2009, a prosecuting attorney for the Department of State, Juan Ruiz, recommended closing the file without “intensive review” – in fact, without reviewing anything but the complaint. With no other facts, and no attempt to determine any other facts, Ruiz concluded: “The important allegation is that referenced above [Plaintiff contends she suffered permanent injuries due to respondent lacerating her small intestine during an abortion.]. Barring a pattern of conduct – which does not exist in this case – this would be, at most, considered simple negligence or incompetence, as this would be a case of surgical site injury.”
Ruiz testified before the Grand Jury. He insisted that “everything of substance gets investigated.” Yet he ordered no investigation of Dana Haynes’s complaint. No one even talked to Ms. Haynes – until investigator Gillespie did after the February 2010 raid. Ruiz wrote that no “pattern of conduct” existed in this case. But how could he possibly know that? He did not look at Gosnell’s history. A simple database search conducted by the evaluator from the National Abortion Federation, before she visited the clinic in December 2009, showed that at least five women before Haynes had successfully sued Gosnell for perforating their uteruses. Private settlements do not show up on the database, so there could be many more. Gosnell, or his insurers, had paid over $1.7 million to these women or their families. One, Semika Shaw, had died from her injuries – as Ruiz should have been aware.
Ruiz claimed that he had no way to find this information. If that is true, it is appalling. The database used by the abortion federation’s evaluator – the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) – is designed for use by state boards of medicine to assist them in quickly and easily identifying and disciplining medical providers who engage in unprofessional behavior. The database was established by the U.S. Congress and is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It lists the names of complainants, their allegations, and the amount of the settlements. The basis for Ruiz’s decision – that Gosnell had no history of perforating uteruses – would have been quickly dispelled had he simply checked the NPDB’s information.
Even if the prosecuting attorney did not have access to the NPDB database, Ruiz should have been alarmed by the information in the Department of State’s own records. Semika Shaw had died from the same injuries alleged by Ms. Haynes. Marcella Choung, who had no monetary interest, had spelled out essentially all of Gosnell’s criminal practices to the department. The woman we have referred to as Alice and her companion had accused Gosnell of locking the companion in the clinic to prevent him from getting medical help for Alice. Accordingly, when Ms. Haynes alleged that the doctor did not summon help for her, but left her for four hours, bleeding and in pain, that should have warranted at least a phone call to Ms. Haynes. Yet Ruiz, apparently, did not even read the complaint carefully. He claimed before the Grand Jury that no one investigated the allegation that rescue was not called for four hours because it was not contained in the legal filing in Ms. Haynes’s medical malpractice suit. In fact, it was. The comp
22. The negligence and gross negligence, recklessness and carelessness of Defendant Gosnell, included, but is not limited to:
* * *
(j) Allowing the patient to wait four (4) hours in severe pain and bleeding before calling an ambulance to take the plaintiff to receive proper care for the injury caused to her;
(k) Placing plaintiff’s life in jeopardy in order to cover up his own negligence; …
Prosecuting Attorney Ruiz testified that it was unfortunate that Haynes’s attorney “did not lay out all of the facts in that complaint.” Even leaving aside the erroneous claim that the complaint did not include an allegation about failing to call an ambulance in a timely fashion, the prosecutor’s testimony points out a serious flaw in the Department of State’s procedures. The department’s disciplinary responsibilities should not depend on the quality of a plaintiff’s representation. At least some independent fact-finding should take place. At a minimum, the complainant should be interviewed. Had the prosecutor asked an investigator to call Ms. Haynes, he would have learned what inspector Gillespie did a few months later – that in Ms. Haynes’s case, Gosnell had locked her family members out of the clinic, preventing them from discovering that she was bleeding profusely after a bungled procedure and from summoning help. He would also have learned that Gosnell was violating the Abortion Control Act.
When interviewed, Ms. Haynes, age 38, told Gillespie that she was nearly 17 weeks pregnant when Gosnell performed a two-day, second-trimester abortion. Gosnell inserted laminaria on November 10, 2006, and she returned the next day for the procedure. She said that no one counseled her about the abortion – and that no one had counseled her before three other abortions performed at Gosnell’s clinic. She arrived in the afternoon on November 11 and was given some valium and medicine to help her dilate. At 7:45 p.m., when she was taken to the procedure room, she called a cousin to tell her that she would be ready for pickup shortly. In the procedure room, one of Gosnell’s sons inserted an IV and administered anesthesia. Ms. Haynes said she remembered Gosnell entering the room, and talking to his son, but then “everything else is a blur.” When she woke up, she was in the hospital with her family around her. Ms. Haynes told the investigator that the clinic staff refused to let her two cousins come inside the building
when they arrived around 8:00 p.m. to pick her up.
This one interview established at least two serious violations that should have prompted disciplinary action by the Board of Medicine – Gosnell’s routine failure to counsel abortion patients in violation of the Abortion Control Act, and the use of unlicensed employees to perform work for which they were unqualified. The evidence that clinic staff locked Ms. Haynes’s cousins out of the facility to cover up the fact that Gosnell had seriously injured the patient – and thereby prevented getting her help – was even more serious. It clearly warranted an investigation and disciplinary action. Investigator Gillespie’s interviews with Ms. Haynes’s cousins confirmed that they had been purposefully locked out of the facility for over four hours. When they first arrived at 8:00 p.m. to pick up Ms. Haynes, they rang the buzzer on the clinic’s front door, but were told that she was not ready and that they could not come inside to wait.
The cousins went across the street to get pizza and returned an hour later. Again, the clinic staff refused to admit them. This went on for several hours as the cousins watched a continuous flow of people enter and leave the building.
Finally, sometime after midnight, the cousins threatened to call the police if they were not allowed into the building. A clinic employee then told them to wait a minute and eventually admitted them. Once inside, the cousins declined the worker’s request that they wait to speak to Gosnell and demanded to see Ms. Haynes. The worker escorted them to the back of the building where they found Ms. Haynes by herself, lying on a recliner, with no supervision, no monitoring equipment, and no pants. She was covered with a throw blanket and there was blood on the floor around her. She was slumped over and was completely unresponsive when they tried to arouse her.
Gosnell appeared about five minutes later. He told them she was heavily sedated because she had just had the procedure – which they knew was false because of Ms. Haynes’s phone call at 7:45, when the procedure was about to start. He told them that there had been complications and that he had been unable to remove the entire fetus. He insisted there was no need to call an ambulance, but they demanded that he do so. At the hospital, Ms. Haynes was told that Gosnell had left most of the fetus inside her, and that he had cut holes in her cervix and bowel. She required a large blood transfusion and remained hospitalized for five days. Had investigators from the Department of State pursued Ms. Haynes’ complaint and spoken to Kareema Cross, she could have told them what she told the Grand Jury – that Gosnell did not call an ambulance because he wanted to keep trying to complete the abortion. He had already removed the patient from the room once, performed other procedures, and brought her back to try again. Cross kn
ew that the doctor had punctured something. Had the cousins not threatened to involve the police, Gosnell would undoubtedly have brought Ms. Haynes back into the procedure room, for at least the third time, rather than summon an ambulance. In the end, none of this mattered as far as the Department of State was concerned.
No one there thought Ms. Haynes’ complaint was worth investigating.
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