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Letter to The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations RE: Alex Spourdalakis


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; 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 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

Thank you  

Yours sincerely,



Polly Tommey and Andrew Wakefield

Producers, Autism Media Channel

Autism Media Channel



Thank you for the links to the commission. What good insight on what one can expect when you are forced into a hospitalization experience. I agree that there should be some kind of system for improvement and accountability, AND that we need to be aware of who's information they are using to make those lists for what needs to be done to be considered a good medical organization. Here is just one criteria:

No need to worry, though, they did some 3+ years long research project to figure out how to improve the dismal 41% compliance rate on good handwashing practices - since semmelweis in the 1840s figured out washing hands is good in a medical care setting. The participating hospitals improved compliance from 57% to 83% compliance, but I'm pretty sure they decided to leave out emergency room challenges from being assessed. At that rate there should be some kind of action on the slightly more complicated misuse of vaccinations, in about 400 years, which will probably occur only after improvement over the misuse of antibiotics in about 180 years.

I can only hope that they will act a bit faster for patients like Alex.

Cherry Sperlin Misra


Forget not those who went before Alex...The infants with Pink Disease (Dont call it mercury poisoning) .... The children of Minamata (Dont call it mercury poisoning) The infants who died with Kawasaki Disease (Dont call it mercury poisoning) and all the other autistic children wholived short lives, oftn full of suffering. Doesnt any responsible person want to end this latest disaster ?


Thank you, Polly Tommey and Andrew Wakefield, for your advocacy!


The movie is also available from amazon as a streaming rental.

Jeannette Bishop

We have a tyrannical medical system that does what's best for the most tyrannical machinating to profit by controlling choices. Of course while it's often good for a tyrant to allow some choice or appearance of choice to garner as much goodwill as possible to not be overthrown, our "healthcare" seems to depend more on a kind of zealous goodwill where one seems to feel it must be a moral obligation to support whatever is dictated because that must be the best way, otherwise it wouldn't be dictated (at least that's the best I can do at making sense of all the support our system gets).

Those with greater means and skill, luck, and sometimes faith I think, can work the system sometimes to advantage. Those more impoverished might be essentially left to the choice of do what they say not liking the results, or like the results whatever they are. Those perhaps "impoverished" to the point they cannot like the results might feel the choice they have been given is something like participate in the "legal" torture and slow killing of (in this case) your child, or watch helplessly, or take a criminal course.

I don't know all that was involved or in the minds of Alex's caregivers, but it seems clear that the system never did anything from vaccine injury on tending towards what was best for Alex's health or his caregivers' when it wasn't good for the system. I'm not sure that fact can be accredited away, but in the minds of many it probably can, so the AMC might bother to respond, and hopefully with a response that will truly lead to the restoration of the medically injured.

I'm not truly hopeful on that last part, except that I hope I'm open to being wrong.


It is very interesting that The Joint Commission, which enjoys non-profit tax exempt status, according to its 2013 Form 990: generates $142,545,602 in program service revenue (I imagine the orgs that they accredit pay for the service), $6,975,596 in investment income, $1,902,807 in contributions and grants, $5,953,503 in "other income" (hmmm). They pay out $98,020,711 in salaries, other compensation and employee benefits (to pay 511 employees - do the math, SOMEONE is profiting), and $45,037,835 in other expenses ($45 million?). Income exceeded expenses by $14,318,962. Assets exceeded liabilities by $141,889,039.

I wonder if the accreditation, which in our system all health care institutions must maintain, has anything at all to do with high standards and quality that benefits the public, or if it has only to do with enriching the accrediting institution. Are they merely modern gangsters selling health care businesses "protection"?

I hope that real journalists take an interest in this as it lies at the heart of our health care crisis. I hope that The Joint Commission chooses to respond and take action to defend their own worth and reputation. Thank you to the Autism Media Channel.

I just noticed that the 2013 Form 990 reports that there are 511 employees, which contradicts the Commission's website (below), which states "The Joint Commission employs approximately 1,000 people in its surveyor force...". Maybe the accrediting agency operations could use some oversight and accrediting.

"Facts about The Joint Commission
July 16, 2014
Mission: To continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value.

Vision: All people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings.

Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, not-for-profit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. To earn and maintain The Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval™, an organization undergoes an on-site survey by a Joint Commission survey team at least every three years. (Laboratories are surveyed every two years.)

The Joint Commission is governed by a 32-member Board of Commissioners that includes physicians, administrators, nurses, employers, a labor representative, quality experts, a consumer advocate and educators. The Joint Commission employs approximately 1,000 people in its surveyor force, at its central office in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, and at an office in Washington, D.C."


Yeah; why did you let him sit there all tied up untill all the insurance ran out - then untied him and handed him to these two women???

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