What Can I Do?
Start by researching the prisoner’s medical issue, obtain an Authorization for Disclosure of Health Information form and make regular inquiries about the prisoner’s health care by contacting the prisoner’s assigned Health Care Provider (provider), the Facility Medical Director (FMD), or the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for the WDOC.
Research can be accomplished by visiting:
or equivalent website and making a copy of the relevant information discussing the prisoner’s medical issue for yourself and the prisoner.
Have the prisoner obtain an Authorization for Disclosure of Health Information form  from his facility law library, or assigned provider. Have him or her complete the form, authorizing the Department of Corrections and the FMD to disclose requested records or information to you, sending a copy to the assigned provider, the facility medical records department and you. Sometime thereafter you will be required to obtain a password in order to request information; this is because health care information is protected by state and federal law.
Next, look over the fence by contacting those responsible for providing the prisoner’s health care. Contact the facility and ask for the provider’s work number and extension, including his/her WDOC email address. It is recommended that you also request the same information for the FMD.
Before you initiate contact with the prisoner’s assigned provider, it is recommended you make a list of questions and concerns you or the prisoner may have about the treatment being offered, or denied – remember your password. It is recommended that, after the initial call, all future contact be by email, creating a record of your interactions.
If, for some reason, the provider is uncooperative, then address your concerns to the FMD, and if that doesn’t rectify the matter, contact the CMO requesting remedial action.
Learn about those providing medical care to the prisoner by going to:
and click on “Licensing Requirements for Health Care Providers,” locate “Credential Search” and follow instructions. This site will allow you to verify if the assigned provider or FMD has an active license to practice medicine in Washington State, including any complaints of misconduct. This is important, because some WDOC health care providers are operating under a “limited license” which limits where and to what extent they can practice medicine.  Those with a limited license should be given special scrutiny because they may have been denied a full license due to prior criminal convictions, ethical violations, mental health issues, or any myriad of other reasons which resulted in suspension or revocation of their medical license from another jurisdiction.
If, after having researched the prisoner’s medical issue, and after contacting his or her provider, FMD, or CMO, you believe the prisoner is not being provided adequate medical care, file a formal complaint with the Department of Health – Health Systems Quality Assurance. (HSQA)
If the facts and evidence in your complaint demonstrate unprofessional conduct in the form of incompetence, negligence, or malpractice, which results in injury to the prisoner or which creates an unreasonable risk of harm to the prisoner , the complaint should be acted upon by the HSQA. To file a complaint, go to:
click on “How to File a Complaint” and follow instructions, or, go to:
or, use the following example:
Work, home, or cell phone number
Health Systems Quality Assurance
Complaint Intake Unit
Olympia WA 98504
Re: Unprofessional Conduct Complaint
Name and address of facility where prisoner resides
Name/title of health care provider
Prisoner name and DOC number
Date of birth
Provide the facts: who, what, when and where, including names of any witnesses, prisoner or staff.
Submit the complaint by mailing it to the above address, or by calling: 360.236.2755 for assistance.
What if the prisoner has disabilities and the facility refuses to provide reasonable accommodation? Start by following the above steps in addition to the following: gather all records documenting the extent of the disability. Next, obtain the contact information for the facility’s Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator (ADA Coordinator) and request reasonable accommodation. If the ADA Coordinator is uncooperative, it is recommended you contact Disability Rights of Washington Project at:
315 – 5th Ave S Ste 850
Seattle WA 98104
or by calling: (206) 324.1521 or 1.800.562.2702 – Mon to Fri. 9am to 4pm
or, by visiting:
requesting their assistance or intervention.
What can I do? Engage, ask questions, document your interactions and don’t take no for an answer – remember a life may be at risk.
If, by chance, you’re an attorney, please know there are prisoners – people – at this very momement, who are being denied treatment for their serious medical needs – people in desperate need of your assistance.
Go to Part V.5 for foot notesDavid’s Heart Part V.4 – By Michael Holmberg