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Eastern Women's Center's History
Eastern Women's Center Botches Abortion on 17-Year-Old Girl
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Dateline: 1/17/01

Heath Department documents from an inspection of Eastern Women's Center tell of the case of a patient I'll call "Francine."

Francine was 17 years old and 20 weeks pregnant when she came to Eastern Woman's Center for ehr abortion. She suffered a uterine perforation and was hospitalized on January 13 - 17, 1988. When she arrived at the hospital, staff there had to complete the abortion, repair a large tear in Francine's cervix, and repair a hole that had been made in her uterus.

The investigation noted that Eastern didn't document when a doctor was consulted about Francine's condition, or for that matter even when her abortion was performed. They also didn't not when she was transferred to the hospital.

The notes written by the abortionist were "vague and non specific." The physician who signed off on the examination was not the same physician who signed off on the abortion.

Francine's medical history did not appeared to have reviewed. There was also no evidence that a social worker attended to any of Francine's social risk factors including her age, how late in the pregnancy the abortion was being done, or her history of a prior abortion two years earlier.

Eastern also failed to respond to some discrepancies in charging the gestational age of Francine's fetus. By date charted as being Francine's last menstrual period, she was 8 weeks pregnant. The examining physician estimated her pregnancy as being 12 weeks. But the fetus was a 20 week fetus when examined after the abortion. The correspondence raised the question, "What is to be done regarding the competency and care in performing the physical examinations?"

The Health Department noted that this "incident resulted from underestimating gestational age. ... [and] from efforts to complete this procedure at Eastern Women's Center."

Eastern proposed that the proper response was to monitor the doctor for three months and, on a trial basis, begin to do ultrasounds on first trimester abortion patients to accurately calculate gestational age.

Source: Health Department correspondence

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