On April 4, 2013, The Roanoke Times printed and posted to their blog an article about two gynecologists who were fined $1,000 each by the Board of Medicine for using a dishwasher to "disinfect" their medical instruments. Commenters on the blog were outraged.
One woman wrote:
U r kidding. Shame on them. I will not go there that is for sure. Wonder if they gave their patients a discount. If they cannot afford the proper equip maybe they should stop practicing.
A man wrote:
Good job. We (the public) need to know about these events.
A nurse wrote:
I am an RN, and former Surgical Technologist. Whether or not the dishwasher was "dedicated," there are so many things dangerously wrong with the concept, I won’t even try to explain them . . .
The next day, April 5, The Times posted a special update to the article to inform the public that a third physician was additionally fined. Three local TV stations covered the story. The AP picked up the story and it even ran in an Oklahoma media outlet. The media coverage was warranted — the health of patients was at risk and the public deserved to know.
Now jump with me to an unrelated, yet extremely related, story.
Exactly one week following The Roanoke Times news story, on April 12, The Board of Health met for its scheduled final vote on the abortion center health and safety regulations. Leading up to this vote, The Family Foundation had released information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act from the Department of Health on health and safety deficiencies at Virginia abortion centers. Similar to The Roanoke Times story from above, medical equipment was found to be improperly disinfected. In fact, "disinfecting" them with a dishwasher would have been a step up.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia was cited to have had a small bin where examination instruments were placed which was filled with water and had a dead insect floating inside. The sponge used to clean instruments at A Capital Women’s Health Clinic was cleaned only once a week. At the Falls Church Health Care Center, an inspector found dried blood on medical instruments designated as clean. And I haven't even mentioned the egregious violations found, like blood on exam tables, broken/missing resuscitation equipment, and untrained staff.
In accordance with The Roanoke Times story, you would expect public outrage over the hazard to patients' health, no? Instead, the discussion spoke of "politically motivated" safety regulations that would deny access to "safe" healthcare. Planned Parenthood went so far as to call the safety regulations "devastating" for women. Where was the voice of these same advocates when three doctors were fined $1,000 for using a dishwasher? Were those sanctions politically motivated and devastating?
I find it ironic that when the location switches from a gynecologist's office to an abortion center, suddenly the media resorts to taking polls as to whether or not the public wants disinfected medical instruments. Seriously. Where is the fair and balanced coverage? Or does abortion not count?