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More immigration detainees allege subpar gynecological care at Georgia facility

A law enforcement officer at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Washington. (Salwan Georges/The Washington Post)

A team of medical experts has said it supports calls for an investigation into an immigrant detention center in rural Georgia, after the group examined thousands of pages of medical records for women who alleged “maltreatment,” including “overly aggressive” gynecological procedures at a local physician’s office.

Project South and other advocacy groups, as well as more than 170 members of Congress, have called for wide-ranging investigations into the Irwin County Detention Center after a former nurse at Irwin filed a whistleblower complaint last month saying that a doctor — later identified as Mahendra Amin — was subjecting female detainees in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody to unwanted hysterectomies.

Amin has denied any wrongdoing and the hospital has said that just two such procedures have been performed on detainees since 2017.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General opened an investigation into the center last month.

Chicago lawyer Adam Snyder said Friday that he helped assemble an independent team of medical experts, including nine board-certified obstetricians, to examine women’s claims of subpar treatment after Project South released the whistleblower complaint from former nurse Dawn Wooten.

The team, which briefed congressional staff members on their findings Thursday, said in a five-page report obtained by The Washington Post that it reviewed more than 3,200 pages of medical records from 19 women who alleged mistreatment. They found what they consider to be a troubling pattern of inadequate care that included incorrect diagnoses and a failure to secure informed consent for surgery and other procedures.

Snyder said he was concerned that women might have received unwanted treatment, and that still-detained women might be fearful of seeking necessary care.

“This is a medical emergency,” Snyder said of the report, which was first reported by The Los Angeles Times. “You have some women who don’t know what’s happened to their bodies.”

He acknowledged that the medical records are incomplete and that the experts have been unable to physically examine the women who were treated in the physician’s office.

And in at least one case, it appears that Amin might have saved a woman’s life, a detail that is not mentioned in the report but surfaced in an interview Friday.

Amin had initially diagnosed a woman as having fibroids, which was not correct. But then he found that the 37-year-old woman had cancer, and he appropriately performed a hysterectomy, said Ted Anderson, director of gynecology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a member of the independent team.

Anderson said other cases, however, were concerning:

●A 27-year-old woman requested medical care for an umbilical hernia — which is not a gynecological issue — and records showed that Amin performed a transvaginal ultrasound and a Pap test.

●A 28-year-old woman said she was taken to the Irwin County Hospital for a surgical procedure by Amin that she did not know that she was going to have. She also had a penicillin allergy that she said Amin did not inquire about beforehand.

●A 36-year-old woman said Amin performed a transvaginal ultrasound after she complained that her ribs hurt.

“There is a clear pattern of over-interpreting some of the findings that he sees in these patients and overly aggressively intervening in what turns out to be an unnecessary way,” Anderson said.

Amin did not respond to requests for comment Friday, but he has previously denied the claims through his lawyer. Amin is no longer taking referrals from Irwin, according to ICE.

Heath Clark, a lawyer for ERH Healthcare, said last month that Wooten’s claims are “demonstrably false,” and that Amin was a longtime member of the Irwin County Hospital medical staff and has been in good standing for the entirety of his service in the community.

ICE, which oversees the Irwin facility, declined to comment Friday because an investigation is ongoing. But ICE officials said they welcome the inquiry.

“If there is any truth to these allegations, it is my commitment to make the corrections necessary to ensure we continue to prioritize the health, welfare and safety of ICE detainees,” acting ICE director Tony Pham said in a statement.