The adolescent unit of BHC Fairfax Hospital, a psychiatric facility in Kirkland, recently closed after investigations, including a report published by the Washington Department of Health (DOH), revealed safety lapses, a failure to follow established hospital protocols, and staff neglecting to stop adolescent patients from engaging in sex acts, acts of self-harm, and other inappropriate behaviors.
When the DOH inspected the hospital in April 2022, they temporarily barred the facility from taking teen patients after an incident involving a sex act between three adolescents. This group included a 13-year-old nonbinary patient, a 15-year-old female, and a 16-year-old male. The 13 and 15-year-old patients were known victims of child sexual abuse, while the 16-year-old had been acting out in a sexual manner.
The sex act occurred behind a cluster of bushes in a courtyard at the facility, unbeknownst to the staff, who believed the patients to be inside at the time of the act. Fairfax Hospital staff failed to accurately verify each patient’s courtyard location.
The investigation ultimately found that the hospital had placed youth patients in “immediate jeopardy,” and the adolescent unit was briefly shut down. However, records gathered by the Seattle Times indicate that the sex act involving the three patients was just the latest in a string of regulatory violations by the facility.
For instance, three separate complaints of sexual assault were submitted to the hospital in the spring of 2022. The DOH also discovered that the facility failed to institute policies for preventing sex abuse, never reevaluated patients to determine whether they were at risk of suicide, and generally neglected to protect patients by providing a safe environment. In one particularly egregious instance, hospital staff placed a patient known to be sexually aggressive in the same room as a patient who was considered at risk of being victimized.
A new law passed in 2020 expanded the DOH’s enforcement powers concerning private psychiatric facilities, allowing the department to prohibit Fairfax Hospital from admitting new youth patients. This was the first time the DOH used its new powers to take such a step. Until the new law was passed, no enforcement actions had been taken against private psychiatric facilities like Fairfax Hospital for roughly 14 years.
After the investigation was complete and Fairfax was forced to stop accepting youth patients on Saturday, April 22, the hospital took steps to resolve the problems cited in the report. The order restricting the hospital’s ability to admit patients to the adolescent unit was lifted the following Thursday, though the DOH stated that the hospital still had many issues to fix. The hospital announced three weeks later that they would be closing the adolescent unit entirely.
What to Do If My Child Was Abused or Assaulted at Fairfax Hospital’s Adolescent Unit?
Psychiatric facilities are responsible for ensuring that your child is safe at all times while in their care. If your child is a victim of abuse, sexual assault, or some other type of negligence that took place at Fairfax Hospital or another Washington psychiatric facility, you should speak to an attorney right away.
Your attorney will offer you legal advice and help you and your family navigate the legal process. A reputable lawyer will have the knowledge and resources to investigate the alleged abuse or neglect and identify the liable party or parties.
If you can prove that the abuse, sexual abuse, or harm your minor child suffered occurred because of the facility’s negligence, then you could bring a lawsuit against the facility for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent abuse and self-harm, failing to properly train new hires, neglecting to monitor dangerous patients, or engaging in other types of misconduct. A skilled attorney can help you build a robust case for compensation.
Contact Tamaki Law Today
If you suffered neglect or abuse in any form while under the charge of staff at Fairfax Hospital’s adolescent unit, you could be entitled to hold the facility accountable for its misconduct. The attorneys at Tamaki Law have extensive experience helping victims of child abuse, neglect, and youth sexual assault seek justice through compensation.
Depending on the specific losses you suffered, you could be entitled to financial damages for medical expenses and non-financial losses, including emotional trauma and mental anguish. Contact a Washington patient abuse and neglect attorney at Tamaki Law today for a no-cost case evaluation to discuss your legal rights and options. You can reach our firm by calling (800) 801-9564.