Ms. Amy Papagopoulos
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
One Renaissance Blvd.
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
Dear Ms. Papagopoulos,
I am writing to you concerning the death of Alexander Spourdalakis, a Chicago teenager who had severe autism and inflammatory bowel disease. A complaint was received by the Joint Commission from the autism advocacy group, Autism Is Medical (AIM), in March 2013. This was prior to his death while he was an inpatient, restrained in Loyola Hospital. As far as I am aware and to all intents and purposes, no action was taken by your organization either at that time or since, in response to this complaint.
The hospitals involved in Alex’s extraordinary mismanagement – Loyola, Gottlieb Memorial, and Lutheran - all currently hold your “Gold” seal of approval.
Alex’s harrowing story has been made into an award winning documentary, Who Killed Alex Spourdalakis? produced by Autism Media Channel (AMC; autismmediachannel.com). The documentary, which is enclosed as a DVD for you to watch, speaks for itself. This production was reported recently on ABC 7 Chicago on at http://abc7chicago.com/news/abc7-exclusive-alexs-story/439605/. From January, the DVD will be available nationwide on Amazon, and in Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, Walmart etc.
We will not let this matter rest until the safety of individuals with autism in US hospitals and their access to appropriate medical care is guaranteed. It is essential that the Joint Commission conduct a thorough investigation of these matters. Two women face life imprisonment in Cook County Jail on charges of First Degree murder, largely because of what we see as gross failings on the part of hospitals accredited by your organization. AMC will be following up on this story as it goes to trial and we will be dealing with the official response as part of that follow up. Given the public interest we will be posting this letter at autismmediachannel.com.
Polly Tommey and Andrew Wakefield
Producers, Autism Media Channel