Fired Monroe prison medical director wants her license back

Julia Barnett, 52, was accused of causing prisoners “unnecessary suffering” by the state Department of Health.

EVERETT — A former head doctor at the Monroe prison has filed a lawsuit trying to get her license reinstated after it was indefinitely suspended for unprofessional conduct.

Dr. Julia Barnett, 52, of Lake Stevens, was fired in April 2019 from her position as medical director of Monroe Correctional Complex, following an 18-month investigation by the state Department of Corrections. The investigation found her malpractice led to insufficient medical care of six patients in the prison.

Four of those patients died, according to the state Department of Health. The commission found Barnett failed to get each inmate the higher level of care that was required for their condition and also failed to adequately supervise the providers involved in the patients’ care.

Barnett’s management at the Monroe prison violated standards of care through her “failure to adequately monitor treatment, failure to identify and treat medical issues, failure to provide timely diagnosis and treatment” and more, according to the Department of Health.

Expert panels with the Washington Medical Commission reviewed the allegations. They upheld the suspension of Barnett’s license earlier this year, despite an appeal from the doctor.

On Sept. 22, the doctor filed a 39-page petition for judicial review in Snohomish County Superior Court contesting the suspension. The petition stated the medical commission’s findings were “erroneous” and should be vacated by a court of law.

In the petition, Barnett’s attorney argued the sudden suspension of the doctor’s license after the lengthy investigation was unfair.

“If a physician is genuinely an immediate threat to patient safety, a summary suspension is in order as an appropriate emergency action — but if it is indeed necessary and emergent, it is not an action that takes 18 months to determine,” attorney Gregory Miller wrote.

Barnett was hired by the Department of Corrections in March 2017. She was making $260,000 per year at the time of her firing.

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486; edennis@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterellen

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