[9/16/19] Hospital Expansions Prompt a Call for Oversight

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Gov. Jay Inslee said he wants more oversight of private psychiatric hospitals in the state. Inslee made the comments in a letter to Health Department Secretary John Wiesman this week, following an investigation by The Seattle Times. The Times found that as psychiatric hospitals have expanded in Washington state, with more than 850 new beds approved since 2012, some have repeatedly failed to meet regulatory requirements. The hospitals are only required to disclose specific types of serious harm to the Department of Health and face no penalty for failing to do so.

Private psychiatric hospitals reported 15 “adverse events” over three years, but over the same period the newspaper found 350 incidents in which patients or staff were assaulted, suffered an injury, attempted suicide, escaped or died suddenly. Inslee said he wants the department to strengthen oversight of the hospitals and make its findings more accessible to the public.