Legal Issues

WSHA is active in the courts on issues of interest to its members. Here is a sampling of issues:

  • Volk v. DeMeerleer: WSHA partnered with other advocacy groups to submit two amicus briefs in a case that changed state law to make psychiatrists and other providers liable for the “foreseeable” future acts of their outpatients. Previously, they were liable when a patient expressed intent to harm a reasonably identifiable person. When WSHA and its allies were unsuccessful at the Washington State Supreme Court, we pursued legislation to address the problem. The bill made it through the Senate but died in the House. The Washington State Legislature has commissioned a study from the University of Washington School of Law to better understand the impacts of the change in law on providers and patients’ access to care. (2017)
  • Fortgang v. Woodland Park Zoological Society: This case involved an attempt by a plaintiff to extend the state’s Public Records Act to a private organization that received funds from the state to operate a subset of programs. WSHA was concerned the approach advocated by the plaintiff could result in private hospitals being subject to the state’s public record law simply because they receive Medicaid reimbursements when they care for patients. WSHA and a group of partners filed an amicus brief in this case before the Washington State Supreme Court. The decision was in our favor and maintains the logical balancing test already in state law to determine when a private entity may be subject to the Public Records Act. (2016)
  • WSHA v. Department of Health: WSHA sued to prevent the Washington State Department of Health from promulgating a rule that exceeded the department’s grant of statutory authority. It would have dramatically expanded the types of hospital contracts or transactions subject to the state’s certificate of need law. WSHA won a unanimous verdict from the Washington State Supreme Court. (2015)
  • In re the Detention of DW: The DW case involved an individual challenging the state’s use of “single bed certifications” to designate psychiatric beds used to detain individuals who are found to be a danger to self or others. The problem is that while the state may have designated the bed, the hospitals where the bed was designated could not always provide meaningful mental health treatment. WSHA and a number of other advocacy groups submitted an amicus brief in support of the patient. The Washington State Supreme Court agreed that if individuals are being deprived of their liberty, it should only be if they are receiving meaningful treatment. Since the Supreme Court ruling, WSHA has continued its work on this issue, helping to advocate on new single bed certification rules and promoting exemptions from the state’s certificate of need processes for hospitals seeking to provide psychiatric beds. (2014)

WSHA partners with the Washington State Society of Healthcare Attorneys to host the Washington Health Law Manual

WSHA provides its members with in-depth information on legal topics of interest, such as the Hospital and Law Enforcement Guide


Contact Us

Washington State Hospital Association
999 Third Avenue
Suite 1400
Seattle, WA 98104

Map / Directions

206.281.7211 phone
206.283.6122 fax

Staff List