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Fischbach Family Medicine and Ophthalmology faces legal action

Medical facility cited for infectious-waste violations

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COLUMBIA — State regulators have initiated legal action against an Aiken medical facility, after unsuccessful efforts to collect a $16,500 civil penalty for infectious-waste violations that allegedly happened two years ago.

Efforts to reach Fischbach Family Medicine and Ophthalmology through four telephone numbers that had been associated with it were not successful Thursday.

On Aug. 25, a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said the agency filed a summons and complaint for the $16,500 penalty. DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick said officials were waiting to get on the legal docket for the summons.

The clinic’s doctor had filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which prevents the agency from collecting business debts, according to Myrick in a June e-mail.

A records request for correspondence between the Fischbach clinic and DHEC show regulators have been trying to address the citations.

In May, DHEC issued a letter to the clinic that announced a June enforcement conference to discuss the alleged violations of state Infectious Waste Management Regulations. But the clinic declined to meet with DHEC regulators, Myrick said.

Records on file with the South Carolina Secretary of State indicate the clinic is in good standing, and an agency spokes­woman said neither the Department of Revenue nor the court system has submitted any documents to the contrary.

In June 2010, shortly after the DHEC Board received notice of the Fischbach case and others across the state, a clinic employee who answered a reporter’s phone call had said the mishandling charge stemmed from a nurse’s efforts to transfer the waste without knowing the proper way to do so.

State records show that in April 2009, the landlord for the 721 Richland Ave. W site complained by telephone to DHEC that the clinic staff had left behind infectious waste after moving to 410 University Parkway.

DHEC inspectors checked the site the next day and noted several violations. Among them was a citation that said the facility had not taken care to keep the public and the environment from being exposed to the waste.

The Aiken facility is probably not the only one in the state that has eluded DHEC’s civil penalties for alleged violations of environmental regulations, but as for who the other entities are and the grand total of what is owed, Myrick said it would be difficult to tabulate and would consume considerable staff resources.

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