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.


Peter

Peter Mullenix

Peter Mullenix

Peter is an attorney in Seattle, Washington, who brings product defect, medical device, and medical malpractice cases on behalf of injured patients and their families. He handles cases nationwide and is currently working with clients in Washington, Texas, and Kentucky.  His recent cases include lawsuits against the manufacturer of the “da Vinci” surgical robot, the manufacturer of Norian” bone cement, and the manufacturer of the Penumbra “Coil 400” aneurysm coil.

Though he now represents only individuals and small businesses in bringing claims, Peter’s first work as a lawyer was a two-year clerkship at the Washington State Court of Appeals for Judge Mary Kay Becker from 2005-2007.  Peter then worked primarily as a civil defense attorney before coming to Friedman | Rubin in 2012.  That work included five years defending the City of Seattle in police misconduct cases and various manufacturers of asbestos-containing products in product liability lawsuits. He became a partner at Friedman | Rubin last year.

Peter was recently asked to serve as Vice Chair for the Washington State Association for Justice’s Medical Malpractice Litigation Practice Group.  And he has been repeatedly recognized as a Washington “Rising Star” both earlier as a civil defense attorney and now a plaintiff’s attorney.

Peter became involved in the patient safety advocacy world a few years ago out of frustration from the amazing volume of people he cannot help at his law firm. Peter has “screened” the medical malpractice cases at his firm for the past five years. This means he repeatedly spends hours telling injured patients, or their heirs, about the legal escape hatches doctors, hospitals, and manufacturers can use to avoid responsibility in the legal system. He decided to channel his frustration into something positive by joining Washington Advocates for Patient Safety. This year he became Legal Advisor to WAPS and participated in their legislative advocacy work. He also started a website called http://safepatientadvocate.com to help get the word out about safety issues that might help patients protect themselves.  His primary focus is on unknown dangers from medical devices. Last year he created a two minute video called: “5 Things to Know About Medical Devices Before Your Surgery,” which can be seen here: http://safepatientadvocate.com/video-5-things-know-medical-devices-surgery/. He also recently authored this list of questions to ask when a doctor proposes using a medical device:http://safepatientadvocate.com/12-things-ask-doctor-wants-consent-use-medical-device/

He lives in West Seattle with his wife, also an attorney, and their two young kids.  To contact Peter, you can email at pmullenix@friedmanrubin.com.


Vikki Owens

Vikki Owens

Vikki joined Washington Advocates for Patient Safety (WAPS) because of the organization’s legislative and community work in the areas of preventable medical harm, patient-centered care, and health care transparency.

Her views about the importance of becoming an informed patient and patient advocate were shaped by caring for her mom during a grueling breast cancer journey and guiding her adult son through his health crisis as a result of a severe allergic reaction to an antibiotic. Further, her health challenges related to over-treatment in an attempt to control a chronic condition made her realize the significance of empowering one’s self to partner with a physician to achieve improved health outcomes.

Vikki’s growing interest in disparities in healthcare quality among the Black American population is another area in which she plans to advocate for improvement and increased awareness. In addition, to being a WAPS board member, she also serves on the board of MIT Enterprise Forum NW as Volunteer Engagement Director. When not volunteering, Vikki focuses on her role as Co-Founder and CEO of Taliferro IT Consulting.


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.