Practitioner Loses License, Killed Woman in Failed Abortion

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 26, 2011   |   12:39PM   |   Los Angeles, CA

Andrew Rutland, a southern California abortion practitioner, has agreed to give up his medical license a second time over a case involving his killing a woman in a botched abortion. Rutland killed an Asian woman in a failed abortion — as the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office ruled the death of Ying Chen a homicide.

The botched abortion was done in July 2009 at a filthy and ill-equipped acupuncture clinic in San Gabriel that Rutland ran where he also did abortions. Rutland killed Chen by administering anesthesia to her and not knowing the proper dosage. He injected lidocaine, a local anesthetic, in her cervix and the woman began to have an immediate reaction. The abortion practitioner began to perform CPR but state medical board documents say there was a “significant delay” in him calling 911 for emergency medical help for the woman.

Ying was in cardiac arrest when the ambulance arrived and was taken to a hospital, where she died six days later. An autopsy revealed Rutland gave the woman the wrong dosage of the anesthesia.

According to the Orange County register, Rutland will surrender his medical license on February 11 rather than face disciplinary proceedings on the allegations of gross negligence related to Chen’s death. He did not admit his guilt related to the botched abortion in making the agreement with the California Medical Board, which says Rutland acknowledges the board could establish “factual basis” for one or more charges other than the homicide.

This is the second time Rutland has surrendered his license — as he did so in 2002  for severing a baby’s spinal column during a forceps delivery, then lying to the parents by telling them that their baby suffered a stroke. The baby later died. His license was reinstated in 2007 and Rutland was placed on five years probation with the restriction that he operate only under the supervision of another physician.

Rutland’s Los Angeles attorney Paul Hittelman would not comment to the newspaper about whether Rutland would pursue a medical license after the three year period is up during which he can’t practice medicine. But Scott Broussard, father of Jillian Broussard, the newborn in the 2002 case, did speak with the Register.

“Our family is at rest knowing that others can’t be hurt by him again,” said Broussard. “This is the end of the quest we’ve had for more than 10 years after our daughter was killed.”

Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, told the newspaper criminal charges are still under review in the case of Chen’s death.

Chen’s boyfriend, Zixiang Hu, on behalf of their 2-year-old daughter, filed suit against Rutland for malpractice and wrongful death in the case. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and alleges the abortion center was not properly equipped to perform an abortion and that Rutland did not have proper training to care for patients.

“This is a doctor who performed a procedure he should not have been performing in those conditions,” attorney Jeffrey Bell, who is representing the family, told the Orange County Register in August. “He started a procedure, that if there were any complications, they weren’t prepared for it.”

Rutland is denying any wrongdoing and, in a July 15 letter, called Chen’s death an “unpreventable complication to a local anesthetic.”

Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran the chief medical examiner, called the circumstances surrounding Chen’s death as “gross and wanton disregard for the well being of the patient” and said the abortion clinic was a “dangerous environment for any potential resuscitation.”

He added “the death occurred at the hands of the physician due to his action and inaction” and the newspaper indicates he said the abortion center had expired drugs, no oxygen, and dangerous drugs mislabeled and improperly stored.

An anesthesiology consultant who reviewed the case said Rutland didn’t attempt to perform CPR until paramedics arrived.

In response to the reclassification of Chen’ death as a homicide, the pro-life group Operation Rescue informed last summer that the abortion practitioner is blaming pro-life groups for his legal woes concerning the woman’s abortion-related death.

Rutland sent an angry letter to a list of elected officials and others, including Oprah Winfrey, demanding an investigation into “clandestine collaborations of national antiabortion group organizations and local antiabortion activists with the Medical Board of California.”

Rutland singles out Operation Rescue and complains the pro-life group used “clandestine political collaborations” to force several abortion practitioners out of business. Rutland says everyone from the Medical Examiner, to the hospital, to the police officer who investigated Chen’s death were all involved in some plot against him.

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman responded to saying, “Rutland has proven himself to be a dishonest man who presents an ongoing danger to the public. It was his own negligence and attitude that he is above the law that has landed him in repeated trouble with the Medical Board.”

“Rutland complains his problems are somehow the result of an anti-abortion plot,” Newman said. “He is upset that authorities would hold him accountable to the law, but what he really wants is to be treated as if no laws apply to him. People are dying due to his shoddy work and Operation Rescue is proud of any small part we may have played in bringing him to justice.”

Rutland was caught in an undercover sting operation scheduling an abortion in violation of the order to stop doing them while his disciplinary case proceeded. Administrative Law Judge James Ahler told Rutland to stop doing abortions until the conclusion of the medical board case.

Rutland was barred from performing abortions and surgeries in January and the board interpreted the order to include drug-induced abortions.

After the February hearing, Kathleen Nicholls of the California Medical Board commented, “How many patients have to die before a doctor is shut down? It’s unfortunate someone else is going to have to die to change this order.”