Kansas board says record-keeping issues enough to bar doctor criticized for abortion referrals



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TOPEKA, Kansas — A Kansas doctor scrutinized for referring young patients for late-term abortions remains barred from practicing medicine after a state board declared Friday that her inadequate record-keeping justified the revocation of her license.

The State Board of Healing Arts stripped Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus of her license to provide charity care in 2012, finding she had performed substandard mental health exams in 2003 for 11 patients ages 10 to 18 before referring them to the late Dr. George Tiller's clinic in Wichita.

Neuhaus, from the small town of Nortonville about 30 miles north of Lawrence, wants her full medical license back and challenged the findings earlier this year. A Shawnee County District Court judge agreed Neuhaus had kept inadequate records but nonetheless ordered the board to reconsider its decision.

Board members concluded Friday that the record-keeping issues were serious enough that Neuhaus shouldn't be allowed to practice medicine.

Neuhaus' attorney, Bob Eye, said he was studying the order and "will make a determination soon about what to do next." He said that procedurally, Neuhaus could ask for a rehearing or appeal to the district court.

In 2003, state law restricted late-term abortions, and Tiller's clinic needed a second opinion in each case that a patient's physical or mental health would be seriously and permanently harmed if her pregnancy continued. Neuhaus provided that second opinion. Legislators tightened the law in 2011 so that it no longer contains a mental health exception.

Abortion opponents have criticized Neuhaus for years, and the complaint against Neuhaus was initially brought in 2006 by Cheryl Sullenger, the senior policy adviser for the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.

After Friday's ruling, Sullenger said Neuhaus "exhibited nothing for contempt for the Board of Healing Arts and for any kind of authority over her that might inhibit her from doing something that she feels like she wants to do."

"So I think that makes her a danger and a person like that should not be practicing medicine," she added. "So I am glad they revoked her license, again."

Julie Burkhart, CEO of abortion-rights group Trust Women who opened the South Wind Women's Center offering abortion services at Tiller's old clinic, defended Neuhaus, saying in an email that the doctor has a long history of providing quality, necessary health care. Burhkart said the legal actions against Neuhaus are "politically motivated."

"It is irresponsible, corrupt and immoral for the state of Kansas and the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to continue this witch-hunt to punish Dr. Neuhaus simply because she helped her patients access necessary reproductive health care," Burkhart said.

Attorneys for a board disciplinary panel noted in a filing in November that Neuhaus was sanctioned in 1999 and 2001 for keeping inadequate records. The attorneys also wrote that poor record-keeping harms patients by denying important information to doctors treating them later.

Neuhaus testified during a disciplinary hearing that she left some information out of her records to protect patients' privacy. But the board concluded in 2012 that her records lacked pertinent information and in several cases were "wholly inadequate."

Tiller was among a few doctors in the U.S. known to terminate pregnancies in their last months. A man professing strong anti-abortion views shot Tiller to death in May 2009 in the foyer of the doctor's church at the start of a Sunday service.


Online:

Kansas medical board: http://www.ksbha.org/main.shtml


Hegeman reported from Wichita, Kansas

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