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ORANGE COUNTY BRIEFLY

FDA Warns Apria Healthcare About Procedures

September 04, 1996

COSTA MESA — An Apria Healthcare Group Inc. facility in New Mexico failed to adequately test and document oxygen used to fill home oxygen units, according to a Food and Drug Administration warning letter.

The letter said officials at Apria's Las Cruces facility failed to test each shipment of the medical oxygen before filling the units. It also charged that the facility's employees weren't properly trained and that they failed to keep accurate records of the oxygen and filling procedures. "These repetitive deviations may be indicative of corporation-wide noncompliance," the FDA said in its letter.

The Aug. 6 letter also noted that an Apria facility in Louisville, Colo., was cited for similar violations earlier this year.

Robert Holcombe, vice president and general counsel of Apria, a provider of home health care services, said the company has responded by taking a "corporate-wide look" at its policies, procedures and training programs. "We are going to redouble our efforts to communicate to the field to make sure [personnel] understand" its policies, he said. "We do not believe that there have been any safety risks."

Apria stock fell 75 cents per share to close at $24.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.

The FDA sends thousands of warning letters each year, and only a small percentage result in agency action.

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