An immediate audit of health services inside the King County Jail is being demanded by two county council members following an ombudsman's report critical of health services inside the jail.
Metropolitan King County Council members Julia Patterson and Bob Ferguson have introduced legislation directing the King County auditor to initiate the audit of Jail Health Services' medication administration and pharmacy operations.
"The ombudsman's report, completed in response to inmate and employee complaints, raised several concerns," said Patterson, who chairs the King County Board of Health.
"These concerns ranged from questions about narcotics security, the adequacy of the medication tracking system and the need for quality control measures. One of the primary responsibilities of the auditor is to examine the quality and efficiency of county agencies and programs. An audit will provide the King County Council with a comprehensive evaluation of all services provided by Jail Health, and a set of recommendations on how those services can be better delivered."
Ferguson said the report raised "alarming issues" that require the council to determine "what's truly going on in our jail system." Ferguson chairs the county's Law, Justice and Human Services Committee.
"The audit will provide the council with the information we need to determine if these findings are accurate," he added.
The legislation introduced by Patterson and Ferguson responds to a report from the Office of Citizen Complaints-Ombudsman detailing concerns about identified deficiencies within Jail Health Services pharmacy and medication administration services. The report reviews Board of Pharmacy inspection reports and patterns in 192 allegations reviewed since January 2004.
The legislation would immediately amend the county auditor's work program so the office can initiate an audit of the pharmacy and medication administration practices of Jail Health Services, in order to provide an independent evaluation of the quality and accuracy of pharmacy practices. Dr. Ben Sanders, M.D., the medical director for Jail Health Services, said he welcomed the audit.
"We are proud of the quality of care we provide to this vulnerable population, and we believe we will be exonerated by a detailed audit," he said.