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State wants your complaints about health care providers

From staff reports:

The Washington State Department of Health is trying to make sure that the quality of service provided by 380,000 health care providers and 7,000 facilities in the state is up to standard.

The DOH is asking the public to report any issues they may encounter with health care services throughout the state.

"Patient safety is our highest priority," said newly-installed Secretary of Health John Wiesman. "When someone makes a complaint about possible substandard care by a health care provider or facility, they're helping protect other patients in our state."

Reports can be filed online at www.doh.wa.gov, or by phone at (360) 236-4700. According to the DOH, disciplinary action against health professionals is complaint-driven. The DOH reviews nearly 9,000 complaints annually and inspects thousands of the aforementioned facilities on a regular basis throughout any given year.

In Federal Way, complaints led to dentist Ashok Lalli having his license suspended in 2011, after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. Similar accusations had been made against the dentist in 2008, according to the DOH.

Late last year, complaints of sexual misconduct also surfaced against former Federal Way chiropractor Greg Summers. One of those complaints was so serious that Summers is now facing felony "indecent liberties" charges. If convicted, Summers would be forced to register as a sex offender, according to state law.

Summers' attorney maintained his client's innocence when the charges first came to light.

"We believe that the charges will be dismissed as groundless," according to a statement released last November by Robert Zielke, attorney for Summers. "Dr. Summers denies the allegations as baseless. Anyone can file a complaint against a doctor even when the complaint is not accurate or not actionable. Here, the charges were issued without the (Department of Health) having heard Dr. Summers' testimony and without his opportunity to present contradictory evidence."

The DOH notes that anyone who feels they may have a valid complaint should report it as soon as possible because details will still be fresh in a prospective complainant's mind.

If the issue seems uncertain, the DOH still encourages residents to call the aforementioned phone number and speak to one of their customer care specialists.

Along with that, the DOH also indicates that anyone who is aware of issues with a health care professional or facility can file a complaint. Patients can look up their healthcare provider at the DOH website as well, to see if there has been any past disciplinary action taken against their provider.

"We want and need to hear from the public if a provider or facility isn't meeting standards," Wiesman added. "Our focus is ensuring safe, competent care for all patients. If there's an issue, we want to know about it so we can prevent more problems from happening."

 

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