co-founder, Washington Advocates for Patient Safety

Consumers Union Safe Patient Project

TeamSTEPPS Faculty

National Center for Health Research associate

University of Washington (UW) Community and Patient Advisory Team (CPAT

UW School of Nursing student advisory panel

Communications and Resolution Program Oversight Committee

Patient Safety Action Network

Rex Johnson, MSEE

My Father-in-law was killed by a preventable medication error. A doctor prescribed and gave a drug to my Father-in-law, despite being warned by the hospital pharmacist of a life threatening reaction. The doctor never told my Father-in-law or us about this warning even when we asked the doctor to his face whether there were any risks to the drug treatment. My Father-in-law then suffered a death spiral reaction and died within a few days. 6 months later we learned about the pharmacists warning. At that point, we found a world renowned expert on the specific drug, who stated in writing that the drug should never have been given to a patient with my Father-in-law’s conditions and that it caused him harm. When we filed a complaint with the state Medical Board concerning the doctor’s unprofessional actions, they blew us off saying the doctor met the standard of care. We then filed a complaint with the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); they had no problem finding that my Father-in-law’s patient right/informed consent had been violated and came back with a total of 5 violations of standard care. As a result of the grievous actions of the doctor who mistreated my Father-in-law and the inactions of the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission, I have become a patient safety activist. Since then, my wife (Yanling Yu) and I have co-authored a bill that has become law in Washington State to improve the transparency of the state medical agencies, we are founders and board members of Washington Advocates for Patient Safety (an organization to promote patient safety), we now work closely with the University of Washington’s School of Nursing to train medical students on patient centered care as well as their Community and Patient Advisory Team (CPAT), members of national advisory committee for Train-the-Trainer (T3) Interprofessional Faculty Development Program, we are instructors for the AHRQ TeamSTEPPS Program, and we continue to work with legislators to promote other legislation to protect the public from medical irresponsibility. Recently I have been invited to be an oversight advisor on the new Communications and Resolution Program (CRP). Because of all these events, I have become painfully aware of the staggering magnitude of the health care problem in our country and that there are many other people besides my family that have been needlessly injured or killed by preventable medical errors. It is my goal to find a way to bring us together to stop these unnecessary deaths. 

To read more details about Rex's father-in-law's story of Patient Harm,