By Andrea K. Walker, The Baltimore Sun
8:47 PM EDT, June 6, 2013
The state suspended the medical licenses of three doctors at abortion clinics accused by state regulators of putting women's health at risk — including one case in which a woman died.
The suspensions include Dr. Mansour G. Panah, the medical director of Associates in OB/GYN Care, who has been disciplined by the state three times before, including incidents in the 1980s and 1990s when he had unwanted sexual contact with patients.
The Maryland Board of Physicians also suspended the licenses of Dr. Iris E. Dominy and Dr. Michael A. Basco, citing violations of the state's new abortion regulations at Associates in OB/GYN Care, which runs four facilities in the state.
Notice of the suspensions were posted on the board's website. The doctors could not be reached for comment Thursday. A spokeswoman for Associates in OB/GYN Care did not respond to requests for an interview.
Investigations of the doctors were prompted after problems were found at Associates in OB/GYN clinics after inspection by the state's Office of Health Care Quality, according to board filings.
Three of the Maryland facilities owned by OB/GYN Care had licenses revoked for about two weeks in March. The licenses of all four were suspended May 9 "for systematic violations of the state's surgical abortion facility regulations," preventing the facilities from performing surgical abortions.
The company is contesting that decision.
The clinics were suspended in May after an employee with no health care license or certification gave a patient a drug to induce an abortion at the Baltimore facility.
The same employee also performed an ultrasound on the woman, although the employee wasn't trained in the procedure, according to regulatory filings. There also was no physician at the clinic, even though the woman had scheduled an appointment for the May 4 procedure.
When the doctor on duty arrived, he refused to perform the abortion, saying the facility wasn't equipped for it. The woman, pregnant with triplets, had the procedure performed at another clinic.
A state investigation found that it was standard protocol at Associates for OB/GYN clinics to administer the drug Misoprostol to induce an abortion in patients in the 11th week of pregnancy or later, even if the patient had not been seen by a doctor and there was no physician at the clinic.
Associates for OB/GYN disagreed with that assertion, saying that one unidentified doctor followed this practice without its knowledge, a spokeswoman told The Baltimore Sun in late May.
Dominy is accused of attempting to resuscitate a patient who had stopped breathing while recovering from an abortion at the Baltimore office Feb. 13, even though she was not certified at the time in cardiac life support. The woman died at a local hospital two days later of brain injury, respiratory distress and fluid on the lung.
Although her death was caused by underlying health conditions and not the abortion, state investigators found that it raised questions whether doctors at the clinic could handle an abortion that goes wrong.
The clinic submitted a plan of correction regarding this incident and had its licensed restored. Clinic officials also said Dominy knew how to perform cardiac life support but had let her certification lapse.
The Board of Physicians also cited Dominy for violating state regulations by contributing to an environment in which unlicensed workers were allowed to administer drugs and start abortions. Dominy told investigators it was standard procedure at the clinics, according to the regulatory filings.
Basco was the physician on duty during the May 4 incident involving the woman with triplets. Regulatory filings said the patient didn't receive a safe discharge plan, which could have led to "serious or life-threatening" harm.
Basco also told state investigators it was common practice for unlicensed staff to administer drugs even with no physician on site, the regulatory filings found.
Panah lost his license for 45 days in 1988 for unwanted sexual contact with three patients, according to the Board of Physicians. In 1995, he was placed on probation for three years after unwanted sexual contact with one patient, according to the board. He received two more years of probation in May 2011 for not following proper medical protocol in plastic and aesthetic procedures, the board said.
The board of physicians suspended him in the latest incident because he oversees the OB/Gyn clinics.
"He failed his professional responsibility to ensure that its offices were in compliance with the state's surgical abortion facility regulations, despite being placed on notice of such deficiencies," according to the board's filing.
A hearing on the suspensions of all three doctors is scheduled for June 12.
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