State medical licensing officials filed a formal complaint Thursday against a doctor who performed abortions at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wilmington that was recently cited by public health officials for several unsafe and unsanitary practices.
The complaint by the state Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline said Dr. Timothy F. Liveright represents a "clear and immediate danger to the public."
It accuses him of engaging in multiple acts of incompetence and negligence in performing abortions on five patients in February and March of this year.
Those acts, according to state officials, include oversedating patients, performing unnecessary suction procedures, causing at least one perforation during surgery, and failing to act with proper competence and diligence to avoid unnecessary complications that resulted in patients requiring emergency hospital treatment.
The complaint also notes that Liveright was reprimanded by Planned Parenthood in March of last year for unprofessional conduct that included sexually harassing female employees and ``yelling, screaming, and cursing'' in front of patients and employees.
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Delaware did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Thursday evening. Planned Parenthood CEO Ruth Lytle-Barnaby also did not immediately respond to a telephone message. Attempts to find a telephone number for Liveright were not successful.
In a statement issued earlier this month in response to what she called "speculation and falsehoods'' about Planned Parenthood's services, Lytle-Barnaby said "patients are our top priority, and we insist on the highest professional standards of care."
"Like all high quality health care providers, if we become aware of any deviation from these standards we take swift corrective action," she added.
According to the medical licensing board's complaint, Liveright, 68, sent a letter to state officials last month saying he had retired from practicing medicine in Delaware. He enclosed his medical license and controlled substance registration.
But officials noted that Liveright still has an active license to practice medicine in Pennsylvania.
"Based on respondent's serious and repeated acts of misconduct, unprofessional conduct, incompetence and negligence and that respondent has active medical licenses in Delaware and Pennsylvania, respondent presents a clear and immediate danger to the public," the complaint states.
The complaint was filed one day after state public health officials released an April letter to Planned Parenthood detailing several violations at the clinic, including expired supplies and improper handling and storage of supplies and equipment. Lytle-Barnaby said in a response letter dated May 22 that corrective actions had been taken.
Also Wednesday, two nurses who formerly worked at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Wilmington testified at a state Senate hearing about problems at the facility.
"He was a very small part of it," nurse Joyce Vasikonis said Thursday about Liveright. "The biggest issue for me was sterility. The staff didn't know how to maintain sterility from beginning to end."
Vasikonis, who worked at the clinic from October 2011 to August 2012, said Liveright often failed to wear sterile gloves during abortions, but that she never saw any problems with the actual physical procedures themselves.
She also said she never saw Liveright yelling or cursing, but that she did witness an incident of sexual harassment. That incident involved Liveright teasing a young female intern about a cellphone photograph of a pierced penis that he and another male employee were looking at.
Republican state Sen. Greg Lavelle, who called Wednesday's Senate hearing, said the licensing board's complaint was "too little, too late."
"It smacks of reactionary, `we-have-to-cover-our-butts' bureaucratic practices," said Lavelle, who suggested that Planned Parenthood and state officials were "partners in crime."
"This is typical abortion politics," he said.