Government Gets More Power To Regulate Out Of Town Physicians Under Patient Safety Ordinance

By Jeff Neumeyer

June 18, 2010 Updated Apr 2, 2010 at 5:57 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Out of town doctors treating patients in Allen County now face a new layer of government regulation.

An effort to get a “Patient Safety” ordinance approved 18 months ago failed, but a less restrictive measure this time around gained traction.

In 2008, a previous version was criticized, rightly or wrongly, for picking on out-of-town abortion doctors.

It sought to require physicians to have admitting privileges at a local hospital or health care facility before earning the right to perform certain surgical procedures like abortion.

The new provision says out of town doctors providing any kind of medical care don't need admitting privileges, but do need to supply emergency contact information to the Allen County Board of Health, local hospitals, emergency rooms and urgent care facilities, in case a patient comes in for treatment of complications.

It still gets a cool reception from some abortion rights advocates.

Margaret Lawrence Banning/Planned Parenthood of Indiana: " The ordinance that was passed today certainly didn't call out abortion, but that's where this started, and it was targeted for abortion providers who came from out of state. Abortion providers are intimidated often, they are harassed."

Cathie Humbarger/Allen County Right to Life: " I'm a little puzzled as to why they would come to Allen County to testify in opposition to a very common sense ordinance, when they are not affected at all."

Humbarger says Planned Parenthood doesn't perform any services regulated under this ordinance.

But Banning says her agency is afraid of a precedent being set, that other counties may put in force other changes that could further regulate abortion or other services.

Commissioner Nelson Peters says the patient safety ordinance will focus on much more than abortion, providing a new level of oversight for other procedures such as Liposuction and Lasik Surgery.

He says county government will make no judgments on the appropriateness of any procedure, but will be able to track problem cases and doctors, and may turn information over to the state medical licensing board for review by that agency.

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