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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 11, 2015

DHEC Takes Enforcement Action Following Investigation and Inspections of Abortion Clinics

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Today, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) notified abortion clinics in South Carolina of enforcement actions following an investigation and inspections.

"DHEC remains committed to ensuring that all clinics operating in South Carolina are safe and in compliance with state and federal laws," said DHEC Director Catherine Heigel. "We take the findings of this investigation very seriously and will work together with each of these facilities to help get them into compliance as quickly as possible."

DHEC regulates and licenses abortion clinics and the management of infectious waste.

On August 18, 2015, Governor Nikki Haley requested that the agency conduct an investigation of the three clinics currently operating in the state.

As part of the investigation, DHEC reviewed prior inspection reports of these facilities and conducted onsite inspections between August 31 and September 4, 2015. All three facilities were due to be inspected by the agency later this fall.

During the onsite inspections, DHEC staff interviewed clinic personnel, reviewed documents and patient files, and conducted an inspection of the facilities.

Based on these investigative and inspection efforts, DHEC took the following enforcement actions:

  • The agency issued an Administrative Order of Suspension for Planned Parenthood of South Atlantic in Columbia, S.C., due to violations of state laws and regulations. The 21 cited violations included: non-compliance with the Woman's Right to Know Act, incomplete medical and employee records, expired medications, improper infectious waste disposal practices, and failure to report abortions to DHEC Vital Statistics in a timely manner. The DHEC order becomes final on September 28, 2015, and will result in closure of the facility unless review by the DHEC Board is requested or the facility meets the terms of the order.
  • The agency issued an Administrative Order of Suspension for Greenville Women's Clinic due to violations of state laws and regulations. The six cited violations included: non-compliance with the Woman's Right to Know Act, incomplete medical record documentation, and improper infectious waste disposal practices. The DHEC order becomes final on September 28, 2015, and will result in closure of the facility unless review by the DHEC Board is requested or the facility meets the terms of the order.
  • The agency issued a Report of Visit to the Charleston Women's Medical Center, which notifies the facility of four minor violations (e.g., documentation errors) that need to be corrected. The facility will be required to submit a plan of correction to the agency within 15 days.

Planned Parenthood of South Atlantic in Columbia, S.C., and Greenville Women's Clinic must submit a plan of correction to DHEC by September 28, 2015, show proof of staff training, and pay any assessed penalties in order to lift their suspension orders or face closure.

Additionally, DHEC initiated enforcement action related to the management of infectious waste at all three facilities and against two companies that transport waste for Planned Parenthood of South Atlantic and Greenville Women's Clinic: Stericycle and MedSharps. Cited violations included insufficient documentation of waste disposal practices, failure to follow disposal protocol, and improper disposal of products of conception. The facilities and infectious waste transport companies have 15 days to meet with agency staff to discuss alleged violations, corrective actions, and possible civil penalties.

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Additional information for editors and reporters:

For 2014 and 2013 abortion statistics by facility, click here

 

Jennifer Read
Chief Communications Officer
readjh@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1259