Investigations found that women detained by ICE were undergoing “unnecessary gynecological procedures” at the Georgia facility

WASHINGTON — A congressional investigation into medical abuse allegations that drew national attention in 2020 found that some immigrant women held by U.S. immigration officers at a Georgia detention center likely underwent “unnecessary” invasive gynecological procedures, it says in a report published on Tuesday.

The 18-month bipartisan investigation by the Senate Standing Subcommittee on Investigations reviewed allegations that women detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Ga., committed medical neglect, lax measures to Containment of the coronavirus and questionable procedures had to endure. including hysterectomies.

The allegations first surfaced in September 2020 in a high-profile whistleblower complaint filed by Dawn Wooten, who worked as a nurse at Ocilla Detention Center.

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The 108-page investigative report was formally introduced later Tuesday during a hearing by Democratic Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, the subcommittee chair. Officials from ICE, the Homeland Security Inspector General and LaSalle Corrections, the private company that operates the facility in Ocilla, testified, according to Wooten and a former immigrant detainee and doctors.

Tuesday’s report said investigators had not confirmed the “mass hysterectomy allegations.” But investigators said they found “serious issues” related to medical procedures and policies at the Georgia facility and the conduct of Mahendra Amin, a doctor who Irwin County inmates accused in 2020 of performing questionable medical procedures , in some cases even without the patients’ full consent.

The Biden administration in May 2021 ordered ICE seeks to end immigrant detention at the Irwin County facility in a bid to reform immigrant detention. CBS News reached out to representatives from Amin, ICE and LaSalle Corrections, who still operate the Ocilla facility under a contract with the US Marshals Service.

Citing a medical review he commissioned of over 16,600 pages of medical records from 94 women treated by Amin, the congressional subcommittee concluded that “female detainees appear to have undergone excessive, invasive, and often unnecessary gynecologic procedures.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Headquarters on July 6, 2018 in Washington, DC

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dr Peter Cherouny, the obstetrician-gynecologist tasked with reviewing the women’s medical records, said Amin’s approach to surgical procedures was “too aggressive,” investigators said. Cherouny found Amin’s care antiquated, calling it “pretty good medicine for the 1980s, but we’re not there anymore.”

“Dr. Cherouny explained that 40 patient records – out of the 94 examined – indicated that Dr. Amin had removed the patient’s benign ovarian cysts, although benign ovarian cysts “generally resolve without surgery,” the report said.

Cherouny, the report said, said the risks associated with these surgeries include infection, bleeding, pain and even infertility.

The report said six formerly detained women told investigators Amin was “rough and insensitive” to medical procedures and was not open about his diagnoses and treatment plans.

“These women described that after being treated by Dr. Amin felt confused, scared and hurt,” investigators said. “Several reported that they are still living with physical pain and are unsure of the impact of his treatments on their fertility.”

During Tuesday’s subcommittee hearing, Karina Cisneros Preciado said she “went through hell” during her detention at the Irwin County facility and described unsanitary conditions. But she said the worst experience came after she asked for a postpartum medical check-up.

Cisneros Preciado said she was told she would have a pap smear, a test to check for cervical cancer. But after being taken to the clinic in handcuffs, she said Amin didn’t explain or acknowledge the procedure she was going to perform.

“Then he just says ‘Open your legs’ and continues with ‘It’s getting cold’ and inserts a white tube into me. He wiggles it around roughly. It was extremely uncomfortable,” said Cisneros Preciado. “Just as I’m looking at the monitor next to me, he immediately pulls it out and tells me I have a cyst on my left ovary and that I’ll get a depo injection for it, and if the cyst is there.” If himself If the disease does not resolve in four weeks, I will have to come back for the operation.

Then, Cisneros Preciado added, Amin asked his nurse, “How many more?”

“The reason I’m telling this story is because this shouldn’t happen to anyone again,” said Cisneros Preciado. “We are not animals. We are human beings. We are not just a number.”

The subcommittee called Amin “a clear outlier” in the number and type of pelvic surgeries he performed on ICE detainees. “Ultimately, the subcommittee’s investigation found that Dr. Amin only performed two hysterectomies, one in 2017 and one in 2019, which ICE deemed medically necessary,” the report said. “However, the subcommittee found that Dr. Amin performed an unusually large number of other gynecological procedures on ICDC detainees.”

While the Irwin County Detention Center held 4% of women in ICE custody between 2017 and 2020, Amin performed over 80% of certain gynecological procedures on inmates across the US during that time, including laparoscopies and depo-provera, according to the report -Injections pelvic exams and dilation and curettage procedures.

According to the report, investigators attempted to question Amin, but her request for voluntary testimony was denied. After the subcommittee issued a subpoena for his testimony, Amin said of his attorney that he “refused to testify under his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.”

In a statement, Scott Grubman, an attorney for Amin, accused the subcommittee of focusing on “getting political points.”

“Dr. Amin has been in practice for nearly 40 years and has never performed a procedure that in his professional judgment was not necessary and appropriate,” Grubman said.

Investigators said Amin has been under criminal investigation by the federal government since the beginning of the year. A separate internal investigation by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and a federal lawsuit related to medical procedures for immigrants held at the Irwin County facility are ongoing, the subcommittee said.

Tuesday’s report noted that ICE has no policy on obtaining consent from immigrants for medical procedures performed outside of facilities overseen by the agency. ICE officials, the report said, “explained to the subcommittee that obtaining informed consent from patients was the only professional obligation of the outside provider.”

The investigation also uncovered 659 reports from inmates who described “delayed or inadequate medical care” at the Irwin County detention center between 2018 and 2020. Investigators said ICE and LaSalle Corrections, the private company that oversees the Georgia detention center, “failed to take effective “corrective action” to address the grievances.

In addition, the report raised questions about ICE’s review and oversight procedures for medical providers. The subcommittee said that prior to the September 2020 whistleblower complaint, ICE was not aware of multiple malpractice lawsuits against Amin and other physicians or a federal lawsuit against him.

Investigators found that Amin was not board certified and had been sued by Georgia officials and the Justice Department in 2013, who alleged that he committed Medicaid fraud by ordering “unnecessary and excessive medical procedures.” The case was settled in 2015, with Amin and his co-defendants paying $520,000 but admitting no wrongdoing, the report said.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Stewart Smith, a senior ICE medical official, said the agency takes the allegations surrounding Amin and the Irwin County Detention Center “very seriously.” He noted that ICE stopped referring incarcerated patients to Amin’s clinic and later stopped using the Irwin County facility at all.

ICE, Smith added, “is improving its oversight of outside providers by creating national care policies and establishing a usage review process, an initiative that began well before the allegations became known.”

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