The Board

Rex Johnson

Rex Johnson

Rex Johnson, MSEE

I became a patient advocate the hard way; my father-in-law died from a preventable medication error.  The hospital pharmacist warned the doctor of a life threatening reaction if he administered a new drug to my father-in-law, yet the doctor never informed us about this warning.  Even after the doctor had been warned, when we asked him if there were any risks to the drug treatment, he told us there were none.  My father-in-law suffered serious drug reactions and died within a few days.  We learned about the pharmacist’s warning six months after my father-in-law’s death. Then we learned from a world known expert on the specific drug that this drug should never have been given to a patient with my father-in-law’s conditions, which is consistent with all the drug warnings in medical literature since the 1999’s.   When we filed a complaint with the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission concerning the doctor’s unprofessional conduct, they claimed that the doctor‘s care met the standard.  However, when we filed the same complaints with the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), they found that my father-in-law’s patient right/informed consent had been violated and that the doctor’s care fell below the professionally recognized standards in four other specific areas.

As a result of the grievous actions of the treating physician and the inaction of the state medical board, I have become a patient safety activist. Since then, my wife, Yanling, and I co-authored a bill to improve the transparency of the state medical regulatory agencies. Working hard with state legislators, we were able to get the bill passed in 2011 and now it has become the law.  We are also co-founders of Washington Advocates for Patient Safety, a grass roots organization that promotes patient safety through education.

Yanling and I are now faculty members on the TeamSTEPPS training program at the University of Washington (UW), a nationally recognized program to teach medical professional to work in teams to reduce preventable medical errors. We are also working with UW medical school Interprofessional Education program to teach medical students about team working, patient-centered care, and shared-decision making.  We are closely connected with Consumers Union patient safety network and the National Center for Health Research.  Through all of the above activities, I devote most of my time to improving patient safety at both state and national levels. I also continue to work with legislators to promote legislation to protect the public from medical harm.

Because of all these events and experiences, I have become aware that preventable medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in this country and that there are many other people besides my family that have been needlessly harmed or killed.  My goal is to stop preventable medical harm so that what happened to my family will not happen to other families.

Yanling Yu

Yanling Yu

Yanling Yu, Ph. D

When I was a child, I dreamed about becoming a scientist to explore and understand the world. So I prepared myself for a career in research and followed my dream However, my path was abruptly interrupted, when my dear father became a victim of medical harm.  This tragic event transformed me into a patient advocate.  Now I devote most of my energy towards promoting patients’ right, patient-centered care, and patient safety to help protect all of us from medical errors and to promote patients’ rights to quality of care and informed consent as well as health care accountability and transparency.

In 2011, Rex and I worked hard to get a medical board transparency bill passed in Washington State. We also co-founded Washington Advocates for Patient Safety to promote the voices of patients including those who no longer have voices anymore like my Dad.   By sharing our experience and knowledge and by working together with the public and healthcare providers, I hope we can prevent what happened to my Dad from happening to others and their loved ones.

Currently, I am serving as a public member on Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission. I am a member of Washington State Hospital Acquired Infection Advisory Committee; a consumer representative on FDA Pulmonary-Allergy Drugs Advisory Committee; a member of Patient Safety Standing Committee of National Quality Forum; a member of the national advisory committee for Train-the-Trainer (T3) Interprofessional Faculty Development Program (FDP) at University of Washington, and a faculty member on the University of Washington TeamSTEPPS training program.