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Statement on Jail Health Services

Armen Hareyan's picture

The Jail Health Services program is committed to providing appropriate and high quality care for inmates. Our nurses, doctors, other health professionals and administrative staff care deeply about the work they do and take seriously their professional responsibility to care for the people in their custody.

We appreciate the issues raised by today's article in the Seattle Times, and we are working hard to improve the systems of care that serve the health of inmates. We are instituting many new improvements in our quality assurance and care delivery systems. Some examples include the implementation of electronic medical records, a medication incident reporting system for improved medication error reporting and follow-up, and a pharmacy-specific quality improvement committee.

Our program has received a review and accreditation by a nationally-recognized organization. The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC) found Jail Health services to be in compliance with NCCHC Standards for Health Care Services in Jails. Such accreditation is not easy to attain. As of 2005, out of more than 1,600 jails nationwide, only 242 had received NCCHC accreditation.

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We also value the input of the Washington State Board of Pharmacy about our pharmacy and medication distribution operations, and have made many improvements based on their review. Our most recent score for the Regional Justice Center pharmacy is 95 out of 100 (90 and above is an "A" grade).

In every health care setting, mistakes do happen, and it's distressing to us if patients are ever harmed. We take those incidents very seriously, and are continuing to make progress in building stronger safeguards into our procedures to reduce the possibility of them ever being repeated.

While we are prevented by health privacy laws from discussing specific cases, we take every allegation very seriously, and closely examine all reports of possible errors to continually learn and improve.

Furthermore, we welcome and are fully cooperating with an examination by the King County Auditor into our pharmacy and medication distribution system, and with the Department of Justice on their investigation. We are committed to work openly with regulators, reviewers and elected officials to ensure that the work that we do continues to meet the standards of care that we all expect.