Tuesday, October 19, 2010

1990: A death, and a less than galvanic response

Nineteen-year-old Christina Goesswein, ("Patient A" in medical board documents) was almost 23 weeks pregnant when she went to the office of Dr. Braz Bortot to get an abortion. Dr. Bortot referred her to Dr. Moshe Hachamovitch in Bronx, New York.

Christina went to Hachamovitch's office on October 17, 1990, and the first part of the three-day abortion procedure was started that day. She was sent home and told to return the following day to have her cervix dilated even further for the abortion, which would take place on the 19th.

She came back on the 18th and had more laminaria inserted then returned home. That evening, her boyfriend called the doctor’s office because Christina was having cramping. He was told to give her pain medicine.

Christina's boyfriend called again several hours later because he felt that she was running a fever, but Christina told Dr. Hachamovitch’s employee who was taking call that evening that she was okay.

Early in the morning of the 19th, the boyfriend called the employee again because Christina was experiencing heavy bleeding, cramping and vomiting. Christina stated that she felt that she was in labor. The employee instructed Christina to go to the doctor’s office where she and the doctor would meet her.

They all met at the office some time between 3:00 and 4:00 a.m. After arriving at the office, Christina lost control of her bowels. Hachamovitch then delivered her 24-week fetus in one piece.

Because Christina was not recovering as she should have, Dr. Hachamovitch decided to admit her to an area hospital, but before this could be done, Christina quit breathing and her heart stopped.

Somebody called 911 at about 4:20 a.m., and Dr. Hachamovitch began CPR. Christina was taken to a Bronx hospital where she was pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m. on October 19, due to an amniotic fluid embolism.

Hachamovitch's license was suspended over his false documentation regarding administration of oxygen, and Christina's blood loss.

In its documents, the medical board notes that Hachamovitch failed to record "identity of the individual who performed and interpreted a sonogram of Patient A;" "failed to record the size and type of laminaria;" "failed to properly address the possibility that Patient A might require emergency medical care near her home in the course of the two days between the insertion of laminaria on October 17 and the scheduled performance of an abortion on October 19;" "made no effort to provide for more local and immediate medical care for Patient A at or about 3:05 a.m. on October 19, when he learned that Patient A was experiencing heavy bleeding, vomiting and severe cramps."

The board faulted Hachamovitch for doing an abortion "in the face of heavy bleeding, severe cramps and vomiting and involuntary bowel movements." "Respondent failed to arrange for Patient A to be taken to a hospital before performing any procedure on her so that her condition could be properly managed;" "performed the abortion and D&E without proper monitoring and resuscitative equipment;" "failed to adequately prepare the patient for foreseeable complications;" "failed to have a licensed physician or certified nurse anesthetist present during the surgery'" "inappropriately sedated Patient A."

"Once Patient A went into cardiopulmonary arrest Respondent failed to properly attempt her resuscitation." The board also found fault with Hachamovitch because he did not "describe adequately the procedure used to terminate the pregnancy;" "failed to perform and/or record the findings of a gross examination of Patient A's uterine contents immediately post-abortion;" "intentionally represented in his record for patient A that she received continuous oxygen by mask despite knowing that this was untrue;" "intentionally represented in his record that Patient A had no bleeding at all despite knowing that this was untrue."

My resident troll has argued that legalization made it far easier to shut down quacks like Hachamovitch, because their practices aren't underground and difficult to find.

Well, Hachamovitch was right out in the open. The medical board had already slapped him down for letting Luz Rodriguez bleed to death in 1986. He was allowed to continue to practice, and to cause Christina's death. Even then, he wasn't stopped. He let Tanya Williamson stop breathing and die in his recovery room in 1996.

Not only did Hachamovitch kill patients directly with his own quackery. He owned and oversaw abortion mills elsewhere in the country, and they were just as poorly run as the one in New York.

In Texas, Jammie Garcia died of a massive infection in 1994 after a botched abortion in Hachamovitch's filthy mill. And in Arizona, Hachamovitch gave free rein to John Biskind, who let two patients bleed to death: Lisa Bardsley in 1995, and Lou Anne Herron in 1998. (Biskind's license wasn't revoked until 1998 -- after he was convicted of manslaughter in Lou Ann's death.)

As for Hachamovitch, he simply let his New York and Texas licenses expire in the late 1990s -- when he was already in his 60s and due for retirement anyway. His Arizona license wasn't revoked until 2004, over the New York disciplinary actions (which hadn't been enough to get his New York license yanked) and the way he allowed his Arizona mill to be operated. The situation had originally been brought to the attention of the board in 1998.

For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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