Topeka More than two months after disciplinary action forced him to close his Kansas City, Kan., abortion clinic, Dr. Krishna Rajanna has lost his license.
The State Board of Healing Arts voted unanimously Saturday to revoke Rajanna's license. Earlier this year, his case became the focus of a legislative debate over regulating abortion clinics.
A board inspector made two surprise visits in March to Rajanna's clinic, reporting that the facility was unclean and that Rajanna and his staff kept syringes of medications in an unlocked refrigerator. The inspector also reported finding a dead mouse in the hallway.
Rajanna argued that he had not been given an opportunity to meet with the inspector to correct the deficiencies. He also said in his 10 years of performing abortions in Kansas City, no patient has ever complained about his care.
But board members concluded that Rajanna's clinic represented a danger and said that as a doctor, he shouldn't have needed the board's prodding to keep a clinic clean and safe.
Rajanna can appeal the decision to district court. His attorney, Robert Manske, said Rajanna will decide soon whether to challenge the board's action.
Manske told the board that revoking Rajanna's license would hurt poor patients, saying Rajanna's clinic operated in a low-income neighborhood and charged reasonable fees for services no one else would provide. Manske also said the problems cited by the inspector could be corrected.
"It's kind of like driving a tack with a sledge hammer in this case," he told the board. "There are no patients in here telling you he did bad things to them."
But board member Nancy Welsh, a Topeka-area doctor, said the board should not permit lesser standards of cleanliness and safety because a clinic's patients are poor.
Board members also noted that Rajanna had been previously disciplined, in 2000 and 2001, for not properly testing his patients for their blood types and for improperly labeling medications. Also, in February, Rajanna signed an agreement to improve his clinic's conditions and paid a $1,000 fine.
Rajanna told board members he'd improved the labeling of syringes containing medicines for patients and had wanted to have the inspector review them.
But board member Ronald Whitmer, an Ellsworth osteopath, said he didn't care whether the inspector or someone else would have told Rajanna if the labels were proper.
"That's something you should have learned in medical school," he told Rajanna.
Rajanna's clinic became part of the Legislature's debate on abortion last year, when Atty. Gen. Phill Kline released photos he said an informant had taken inside the clinic in 2003.
Kathleen Ostrowski, legislative research director for Kansans for Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group, noted the lag in time between questions about Rajanna's clinic first arising and the board revoking his license.
Also, she said, many poor women won't come forward if they're harmed by an abortion, out of fear, shame or a lack of medical knowledge.
With Rajanna's case pending, abortion opponents won legislative approval this year of a bill requiring abortion clinics to obtain an annual license from the Department of Health and Environment, hire surgeons as their medical directors and report patient deaths to the state within a day. The measure also mandated that KDHE set standards for equipment, medical screenings, ventilation and lighting.
But Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, an abortion rights supporter, vetoed the measure, saying medical professionals - not legislators - should set standards.
Ostrowski said Rajanna's clinic should have been shut down long before it was.
"What other branch of medicine could get away with any of this?" she said.