published Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Nebraska Attorney General wants to revoke license of abortion nurse

OMAHA, Neb. — A prominent Nebraska abortion clinic is facing a new legal challenge from state officials who want to revoke the license of the clinic’s only nurse because of allegations of questionable care.

Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said Wednesday that he has filed a petition with regulators to revoke Lindsey Creekmore’s license. Creekmore is the only nurse at Dr. LeRoy Carhart’s abortion clinic in the Omaha suburbs.

Bruning said Creekmore improperly delegated some patient care to unlicensed staff and failed to accurately follow patient medication orders for sedatives and labor-inducing drugs.

“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.

The petition outlining the case against Creekmore didn’t say whether any of the patients were harmed by the doses of medication she administered.

Bruning’s spokeswoman Shannon Kingery said prosecutors can’t comment on details of the case beyond what’s included in the disciplinary petition.

Neither Creekmore nor Carhart was immediately available to comment Wednesday. In the past, Carhart has denied allegations of poor care at his clinic.

If Creekmore lost her license, Carhart would have to hire another nurse to help perform abortions at a clinic that is the subject of frequent protests. The allegations also could fuel another push for regulation of abortion clinics in Nebraska.

Carhart is a high-profile defender of abortion rights and has successfully challenged abortion laws before the U.S. Supreme Court. He also operates an abortion clinic in Germantown, Md., that he opened after Nebraska passed a law banning abortions after 20 weeks gestation.

Julie Schmit-Albin, executive director of Nebraska Right to Life, said state lawmakers should consider adopting tougher standards for abortion clinics and requiring inspections.

“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 womens’ health,” Schmit-Albin said.

The case against Creekmore is based partly on information from another nurse who used to work at the clinic. That nurse, who stopped working in the clinic in April 2011, was identified only be her initials in the petition.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services investigated the complaint and made a recommendation to Bruning’s office. A hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 5, and the state’s chief medical officer will decide what, if any, disciplinary action to take.

HHS spokeswoman Marla Augustine said the state doesn’t regularly review nurses’ work, and this case doesn’t mean the state is scrutinizing abortion clinics.

“It’s a matter of someone making a complaint, and then we investigate,” Augustine said. “It’s a complaint-driven process.”

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