Indian Health Service statement on announcement of contract for medical quality assurance review

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HS Principal Deputy Director Michael Weahkee statement on announcement of contract for medical quality assurance review

News Release

Indian Health Service

The Indian Health Service is committed to ensuring a culture of quality, leadership and accountability. We prioritize a workforce that is dedicated, caring, competent, and trustworthy. Protecting our patients is a key element of delivering quality care.

I have made it a top priority to make sure Indian Health Service is doing everything we can to protect patients in our care from sexual abuse and hold accountable anyone who has abused patients or failed to protect them. 

On May 10, 2019, Indian Health Service awarded a contract to Integritas Creative Solutions LLC to conduct a medical quality assurance review to examine whether laws, policies and procedures have been followed with regard to protecting patients from sexual abuse. The contractor will also identify any further improvements Indian Health Service can implement to better protect patients. The review is expected to take 6 months to complete.

This review will complement work being done by the Presidential Task Force on Protecting Native American Children in the Indian Health Service System and a separate review by the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, each with a different focus. This medical quality assurance review will be a retrospective review to evaluate actions taken from 1986, when former Indian Health Service pediatrician Stanley Patrick Weber began working at Indian Health Service, to the present. Weber, who left Indian Health Service in 2016, was convicted in September 2018 of sexually abusing patients while he was a pediatrician at an Indian Health Service hospital in Montana, and is facing similar charges in South Dakota. The Office of Inspector General review focuses on the sufficiency of policies and procedures in place now to adequately respond to complaints of patient abuse and to protect Indian Health Service patients. The Presidential Task Force will develop and recommend policies, protocols, and best practices for future implementation. Outside reviews provide the Indian Health Service with another opportunity to demonstrate accountability.  

Indian Health Service health care practitioners, administrators and other personnel have a legal duty to report known or suspected abuse. While all Indian Health Service employees must report in accordance with applicable laws and policies, anyone else with knowledge or suspicion of abuse is encouraged to report such information to local law enforcement, the Indian Health Service Headquarters Division of Personnel Security and Ethics , or the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General. When reporting something they see or suspect, Indian Health Service employees can be confident that leadership will take the allegations seriously and without reprisal.

At Indian Health Service, we believe in providing a safe and caring environment for our patients. Improving and sustaining the culture of care throughout the Indian Health Service is a top priority. We are moving forward in delivering quality care to achieve the Indian Health Service mission to raise the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of American Indians and Alaska Natives to the highest level.

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