Safety advocates 'horrified' by UW Medical Center investigation results

Two sides to every story. I work for UW at Harborview (non-clinical) and here is what was emailed to all staff. I'm not agreeing with either side, just sharing additional details.

Sent on behalf of Cindy Hecker, Interim Chief Health System Officer

This afternoon, KOMO TV published an online article and is airing a segment during tonight’s 6 pm news regarding alleged deficiencies in the UW Medical Center pharmacy identified by the Pharmacy Quality Assurance Commission (PQAC) in May and June 2014. The story is unfortunate and unfairly casts a negative light on a safe and effective pharmacy by focusing the story around people with no first- or even second-hand knowledge about the inspections or the pharmacy’s conditions. The two individuals cited in the story and their son did not receive care and do not have any experience with UW Medical Center. This story does a disservice to the fine UW employees whose excellent work is being unfairly denigrated.

The deficiencies cited by PQAC in 2014 involved employee training protocols, records management and physical plant issues; there were no allegations of patient harm as there was no evidence that any patient’s care was compromised. UW Medical Center acted promptly to address the issues PQAC raised. In August 2014, UW Medical Center contacted PQAC and informed it of the actions taken and improvements made. UWMC continued to attempt to contact PQAC regarding the resolution of any concerns, with no response. Fifteen months after the pharmacy inspections, in September 2015, PQAC filed a statement of charges against UW Medical Center based on those 2014 pharmacy inspections. In April 2016, PQAC dismissed all charges against UW Medical Center, having concluded that UW Medical Center was in compliance.

The story contends that corrective action was not taken in a timely manner. To the contrary, UW Medical Center worked quickly and diligently to address the alleged deficiencies; work that was completed in 2014. In addition, the story suggests that the state hospital association has used unspecified “undue influence” to address the PQAC’s enforcement plan statewide. While we cannot speak for all hospitals, the UW has not used ‘undue influence’ or anything other than a vigorous defense against what it maintains are flawed enforcement actions, actions that PQAC itself has withdrawn against UW and CMS has also dropped.

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