Correction 05/28/13 at 2:47 pm EST: This story has been updated after LifeSiteNews learned that the Maryland Health Department's investigation into the death of Jeniffer Morbelli is still open, contrary to initial reports.
MARYLAND, May 27, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – While initial reports had indicated that the Maryland Department of Health has cleared Leroy Carhart of wrongdoing in the abortion related death of kindergarten teacher Jennifer Morbelli, the pro-life group Operation Rescue says that it has confirmed that in fact the investigation is still open, and no decision has yet been announced.
The confusion came after the state's Department of Health announced Friday that an inspection six days after Morbelli's death found “no deficiences with respect to” a complaint filed about her death. However, the investigation into Morbelli's death remains open.
In addition, during the inspection investigators did find several violations of Maryland's new abortion clinic regulations.
“Our allegations that Carhart violated the standard of care in abandoning Morbelli after her abortion are still in play,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “If the Board finds that Carhart did in fact commit violations, he could face discipline, including license revocation. So the Carhart patient death case is far from over.”
Twenty-nine-year-old Morbelli, a kindergarten teacher, died in February after an extremely late-term abortion at Carhart’s Germantown facility.
The notorious abortionist, whose late-term abortion business was hounded out of Nebraska, with that state’s attorney general labeling him “one sick individual,” performed a four-day abortion on Jennifer Morbelli at 33-weeks gestation. Witnesses said Morbelli appeared progressively “weak and pale” each day. Despite her distress, after the abortion was complete, Carhart reportedly caught a flight out of Maryland – and out of contact.
Just hours later, Morbelli’s condition worsened. Attempts by the family to contact Carhart, as instructed in the event of an emergency, were futile. Morbelli was finally taken to a local hospital where attempts by staff to reach Carhart and the Germantown clinic where he works also reportedly failed.
In February, the medical examiner ruled that complications from the abortion were responsible for Morbelli’s death.
Operation Rescue had asked the Maryland Attorney General and the Montgomery County State Attorney’s office to file second degree murder charges against Carhart.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, asked that the charges be brought under the state’s “depraved heart murder” doctrine that allows for second degree murder charges when a person engages in conduct that shows a reckless disregard for human life, even if resulting harm is unintentional.
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According to Operation Rescue, Carhart’s inaccessibility resulted in a break in the continuity of patient care and led to a delay in appropriate treatment as hospital physicians struggled to understand Morbelli’s condition.
The pro-life group also filed a formal complaint on February 19, seeking license revocation for Carhart.
In a report made public last week, health officials said that the deficiencies found at the Germantown Reproductive Health Services clinic, while not directly linked to Morbelli's death, were sufficiently serious to warrant a “Notice of Current Deficiencies” with a demand for a “Plan of Correction.”
The deficiencies ranged from lapses in providing information about the professional credentials of clinic physicians to a lack of procedural policies for emergencies if patients had to be transferred to a hospital.
The report states that nursing staff at Germantown were not properly trained to give sedation medication, that the clinic had not properly verified the medical director’s credentials, that one nurse’s license had expired in January of 2012, that staff were filling syringes multiple times from vials of medicine intended for one-time use, and leaving some filled syringes with no identification as to what they contained.
Investigators found that staff failed to pre-clean dirty surgical instruments properly using an enzymatic cleaner, but instead washed them with bleach, water and dish soap, before sterilization.
Investigators also found that none of the 10 patient clinical records that were reviewed during the inspection included a discharge diagnosis.
Germantown's Plan of Correction states that the clinic administration believes most of the “deficiencies” identified by the State inspectors “had no negative impact on patients.”