The Department of Health and Human Services revoked the operating license of Femcare, an Asheville abortion clinic, Wednesday after a routine inspection.

Inspectors found the clinic “failed to comply with with 23 separate rules” and posed an imminent threat to patient health and safety, said Drexdal Pratt, director of Division of Health Service Regulation.

“We take rule violations very seriously and, when necessary, take firm action to prevent harm to patients and clients in the facilities that we license regulate and inspect,” Pratt wrote in a statement.

Inspectors reported the following:

  • Failed to maintain anesthesia (nitrous oxide gas) delivery systems in good working condition, with torn masks and tubing held together with tape.This could lead to patients not receiving the intended dosage and risk patients not being fully sedated during surgical procedures, leading to pain and physical harm.
  • Failed to ensure emergency equipment had weekly checks to ensure the equipment was suitable for use in patient care and failed to ensure that emergency medicine wasn’t expired.
  • Failed to have a resuscitator available.
  • Failed to sweep and mop the operating room floor and failed to properly clean operating room beds.
  • Failed to have a director of nursing responsible and accountable for all nursing services.
  • Failed to have an agreement/contract with an anesthetist or anesthesiologist.
  • Failed to have an agreement/contract with a registered pharmacist to assure appropriate methods, procedures and controls for obtaining, dispensing, and administering drugs.

Femcare released this statement late Wednesday night:

Since the state’s last site visit in August 2006 there have been no changes in our operating protocols, but increasing regulations require us to make changes.

Standards that were acceptable when we were last inspected have changed and, as soon as we were notified of them two weeks ago, we began the process of meeting each one of them.

We have had no patient infections using our former protocols. We expect to be in compliance soon with the required standards and will return to serving our patients as soon as possible.

Lorraine Cummings, MD

DHHS said Femcare’s last full inspection was more than five years ago in Jan. 2007.

Documents News 14 Carolina obtained from DHHS show Femcare also had a lab inspection in 2008 and license inspections in 2010 and 2012.

During the debate over heightened regulations on abortion clinics, Femcare was cited as the only clinic in North Carolina that could withstand stricter regulations.

The General Assembly initially said abortion clinics must be regulated as ambulatory surgical clinics, but backed off after pro-choice activists said that would limit access to abortion because it would force all but one clinic to close.

Femcare states on its website that it is “the only ambulatory surgical facility specializing in medical and surgical abortion in Western North Carolina.”

The new law, signed by Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday, requires state health officials to write tougher rules for abortion facilities. The new regulations could require abortion clinics to follow ambulatory surgical center standards.

This is the third clinic this year to have their license suspended. The Baker Clinic in Durham lost theirs in early July and A Preferred Women’s Health Clinic in Charlotte lost their license in May, however, they got it back shortly afterwards.

Read the full inspection report here.