Sunday, August 10, 2008

1988: Anesthesia screw-up kills teen

As an experiment, I'm going to incorporate a few questions into my blog posts. Tell me if they make it more interesting or if they are annoying. My goal here is to get people to think, and I know asking questions gets different parts of the brain activated. Also, I tend to prefer interactive web sites myself. Note: Clicking on the links will bring you to pages that give answers to the questions. Click later if you want to try to answer the questions without help.

Here goes!

On August 10, 1988, 19-year-old K.B. (due to confidentiality, the public record documents do not give the patient's name) was given anesthesia for a safe, legal abortion at 14 weeks. Since Life Dynamics calls her "Kelly" on their "Blackmun Wall" of women killed by abortion, I will refer to her as Kelly as well.

Shortly after the procedure, she showed signs of distress, but emergency measures were not instituted for almost an hour. Kelly was transported to Cabrini Medical Center where she was pronounced dead from complications of anesthesia.

After Kelly's death, the health department investigated and found a mystery: Kelly's chart listed her post-operative condition as "pink, responsive, alert," even though she had gone into full cardio-respiratory arrest by the time indicated on the assessment. They learned that the note had been entered into the chart before the abortion was even performed.

The inspectors noted that the clinic "did not employ proper monitoring equipment or procedures," "had no working EKG machine," and didn't have a cardiac defibrillator. They noted that no one on staff was qualified to perform CPR. No one on staff was qualified to administer anesthesia, and they did not use proper procedures or equipment. Anesthesia was administered "by eye," with no means of accurately measuring the dose. Dosage was estimated to be twice that recommended in the procedure manual.

The operating rooms were found to be ill-lit, and there was no soap or paper towels at the scrub sink. The scrub sinks were stained, the walls and floors dirty, trash was stored in the scrub room. There were red make-up stains on the oxygen masks and nitrous oxide masks, dusty tubing on the suction machines, and blood on the wheels of the operating table.

The clinic had no documentation verifying the credentials or qualifications of medical director David Gluck. Gluck had been previously convicted of felony charges related to the sale of 48,000 Diluadid tabets to pay off gambling debts. His license had actually been revoked two months before K.B.'s death, but had been restored by judicial stay.

There was no evidence at the investigation two weeks after Kelly's death that Gluck had reviewed her chart, or the charts of 18 other patients identified as having suffered complications.

The state closed the clinic for 60 days, but it never re-opened.

Now, time to test your knowledge.

  • What kind of clinic was the place where Kelly died?
    A fly-by-night that had closed and re-opened several times due to problems
    A highly respected facility
    An ordinary abortion facility that had never attracted any sort of attention before

  • What became of medical director David Gluck after Kelly's death?
    He kept his license and was hired by another clinic, where he performed a fatal abortion on another patient.
    He lost his medical license and never practiced again.
    He was disciplined and had to get a mentor and take continuing education classes. He never was involved in another patient death.
    He lost his medical license but got caught performing abortions anyway at another clinic.

    For more abortion deaths, visit the Cemetery of Choice:

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    Anonymous said...

    Got these correct to first time around. Like the new interactive website!!!

    Anonymous said...

    yes, these are a good way of absorbing the facts

    first question c then b

    second question d then a

    ...don't know what to say, so awful.


    Christina Dunigan said...

    Thanks for the feedback, sam and sarah.

    Anonymous said...

    youre welcome