Monroe Correctional Complex (Washington State Department of Corrections)

Monroe Correctional Complex (Washington State Department of Corrections)

Commission suspends license of ex-doctor at Monroe prison

Dr. Julia Barnett was fired in April 2019 by the state Department of Corrections.

Associated Press

MONROE — The Washington state Medical Commission has indefinitely suspended the license of a former head doctor at a prison in Monroe, citing evidence of inadequate care that harmed incarcerated people.

Dr. Julia Barnett was fired in April 2019 by the state Department of Corrections after the agency’s internal probe found six prison inmates — including three who died — had suffered because of inadequate care she provided or supervised.

The medical commission’s long-running investigation basically supported the DOC’s earlier findings regarding Barnett, who had been hired despite lacking some qualifications for the prison medical director position, The Seattle Times reported.

Barnett committed unprofessional conduct, including “incompetence, negligence, or malpractice which results in injury to a patient or creates an unreasonable risk that a patient may be harmed…” according to a statement of charges signed by the medical commission’s executive director, Melanie de Leon.

Among the incidents cited was the case of a person with a degenerative lung condition who died in August 2018 gasping for air, with inadequate treatment and no attempt to bring in a specialist or seek advanced care at a hospital.

“The delay in care caused (him) to suffer unnecessarily,” the commission investigation found in that case.

Another inmate died in August 2018 from an infected surgical wound after “substandard care,” including failure to diagnose and treat problems, according to the investigation.

In its Nov. 16 order, the commission found “an immediate danger to the public health and safety” and ordered Barnett to surrender her license to practice as a physician and surgeon in Washington.

Barnett can request a hearing to dispute that decision, said Stephanie Mason, a commission spokesperson.

An attorney for Barnett, D. Jeffrey Burnham, declined to comment on Thursday.

Barnett has appealed her firing and defended her medical care in a response to the commission last year, describing the Monroe prison infirmary as short-staffed and “a problematic place to care for sick people.” She also said she had raised concerns about conditions including ventilation problems and inadequate heating and air conditioning.

She was being paid $260,000 a year at the time of her firing. Her appeal is still pending before the state Personnel Resources Board.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Photo by Emily Gilbert/Whidbey News-Times Carol Johnston has watched this Pacific madrone grow for the past 14 years. It is slated to be removed during McDonald’s upcoming renovation in early February.
Madrone tree to make way for bigger McDonald’s in Oak Harbor

Despite being named a Tree City USA, the city has no special protection in place for the native tree.

Democrats in the Washington State House are proposing to pay for transportation improvements partly by raising the gas tax by 18 cents. (Andrea Brown / Herald file)
Gas tax increase part of Dems’ massive transportation package

An 18-cent gas tax hike and a fee on carbon emissions would raise $25.8 billion for new roads and more.

Navy seeks to conduct SEAL training in Whidbey, Camano parks

The deadline to register to participate in public comment is 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22.

Jacob D. Little
Man accused of taking police gun in riot faces murder charge

Police charged Jacob D. Little, 25, of Everett, with second-degree murder and second-degree assault.

A little snow could be on its way to the lowlands this week

Two separate systems could bring less than one inch of accumulation to Puget Sound residents.

Driver jumps from truck in Lynnwood, leaving son to crash

The boy was taken to a local hospital with minor scrapes. His father is in the Snohomish County Jail.

Light rail work to close northbound I-5 in Mountlake Terrace

The overnight closures will happen late Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Jill Johnson (left) and Greg Banks
State’s vaccine schedule draws criticism from Island County

Gov. Jay Inslee’s new plan for vaccinations didn’t include a change for disabled people.

Most Read