Arrest of former OHSU nurse
This page was created to inform and update Doernbecher patients and families about the OHSU and Homeland Security investigations regarding former Doernbecher nurse Bryan Corbitt. For more information about the federal case filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office, including court documents and court appearances, please contact the U.S. District Court in Tacoma: 253-882-3800.
Parents are also invited to call our hotline at (855) 650-3900 or 503-494-7959; that number is staffed Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On Feb. 16, Bryan Corbitt, a former nurse in OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital pediatric intensive care unit, was arrested and charged by federal authorities with possession, receipt and distribution of child pornography. Mr. Corbitt is no longer employed by OHSU.
Update — March 16, 2012
OHSU is in the midst of a two-phase review following the arrest of Mr. Corbitt, to ensure the safety and security of our patients.
The first phase of the OHSU review following Mr. Corbitt’s arrest, called a “critical incident assessment, is complete. The assessment was led by an external investigative consultant. The findings of the assessment were reviewed and conclusions confirmed by external experts. To date, we have no evidence that Mr. Corbitt’s activities at OHSU put the safety or security of our patients at risk, or that our staff or managers missed warning signs regarding patient safety or security.
The second phase of the OHSU review, called “risk prevention enhancement,” is ongoing. It is being supported by a panel of experts from inside and outside OHSU, and will result in recommendations in areas like policies and procedures, access to the OHSU physical environment, digital images and equipment, training and hiring practices. Panelists include:
- Keith Kaufman, Ph.D. Dr. Kaufman is former chair and current professor in the department of psychology at Portland State University and a recognized national leader in child sex-abuse prevention and treatment.
- Leila Keltner, M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Keltner is the medical director of Cares Northwest, a collaborative, community-based program for the assessment, treatment and prevention of child abuse.
- Marj Peck, R.N. Ms. Peck is a retired nurse executive who served at Rady Children’s Hospital—California’s largest pediatric medical center—in San Diego during a situation involving a respiratory therapist subsequently convicted of charges related to child pornography.
- Tom Valvano, M.D., J.D. Dr. Valvano is the assistant professor in the OHSU department of pediatrics and medical director of the suspected child abuse and neglect program for OHSU Healthcare.
- Judi Workman, R.N., M.S. Ms. Workman is the nursing division director for adult intensive care units and the emergency department at OHSU.
The legal process related to Mr. Corbitt will continue, but federal investigators have concluded their investigation into activity at Doernbecher. To date, the federal investigation has not produced any information or charges relating to the safety or security of Doernbecher patients.
UPDATE — FEB. 21, 2012
Media stories, based on court documents, are referencing images of two boys taken in a medical setting that show inserted catheters. These photos were found on Corbitt's home computer. OHSU was earlier informed of the existence of these and many other photos on Corbitt's home computer that federal investigators can't identify. OHSU has persisted in requesting any information about the photos that links them to Doernbecher patients. Neither federal investigators nor OHSU representatives were able to link these photos to Doernbecher patients. The children in the photos are unidentifiable; the diapers are Pampers, a brand that is commonly found in stores, and the catheters are the kind used by many hospitals. Information about the unidentified photos was not included in the patient letter for those reasons. We will continue to share updates as the investigations progress.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I be sure Mr. Corbitt didn’t take any pornographic images of my child?
It is early in the investigation, but at this time we understand no photos of an explicit nature have been linked to Doernbecher patients. Federal investigators have informed us that at this point they are not charging Mr. Corbitt with making pornographic materials, but with possession, receipt and distribution of child pornography.
How do I find out whether my child was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) when Corbitt worked there?
Mr. Corbitt worked in the PICU between July 15, 2002 and Feb. 1, 2012. Many parents whose children received care in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit during those dates will have questions, and we are reaching out to them through letters that were mailed on Friday, Feb. 17. Parents are also invited to call our hotline at (855) 650-3900 or 503-494-7959; that number is staffed Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. —Updated Feb. 28, 2012
Why didn’t you inform parents of this situation sooner?
As soon as we understood the nature and scope of the investigation of Mr. Corbitt, we felt that patients and families should be informed. The U.S. Attorney’s Office asked us to delay that communication until after Mr. Corbitt’s arrest so it wouldn’t jeopardize their investigation.
Did anyone at OHSU suspect that Corbitt might be involved with child pornography?
This news came as a shock and is deeply disturbing to the OHSU community as a whole. OHSU’s pre-employment screening for Mr. Corbitt revealed no criminal record. We are in the process of looking into Mr. Corbitt’s activities at OHSU. At this point, we are not aware of concerns about him raised by OHSU staff, OHSU supervisors, families or patients. Our investigation, which is continuing, has not indicated that Mr. Corbitt transmitted sexually explicit material at or from OHSU.
What kind of background checks does OHSU conduct? Could this have been prevented?
OHSU Public Safety and Human Resources conduct extensive background checks before an employee is hired. A similar background check is conducted when an employee’s responsibilities change, for example, moving from an acute care unit to an intensive care unit.
Can you tell me more about the background check?
Using an employee’s Social Security Number, date of birth and other identifying information, a thorough criminal background check is made at the state, local and interstate level. Drug testing and reference checks also are conducted. In the case of Mr. Corbitt, background checks occurred during his initial hiring and again when he became a pediatric nurse. Those background checks did not reveal any criminal history or provide any information that would raise concerns.
Why is Mr. Corbitt's nursing license listed as restricted on the Oregon State Board of Nursing's website?
Bryan Corbitt's Oregon State Board of Nursing's license verification page reflects the current status of his nursing license. After OHSU reported the investigation to the Oregon State Board of Nursing, a board investigator contacted Mr. Corbitt. Subsequently, on Feb. 6, 2012, Mr. Corbitt signed an Interim Order by Consent, removing himself from nursing practice pending further Order by the Oregon State Board of Nursing. This is why his verification page currently reports a restricted license. Mr. Corbitt had no restrictions or disciplinary findings on his license prior to OHSU's report to the Oregon State Board of Nursing. —Added February 22, 2012
What are you doing to prevent something like this from happening in the future?
OHSU is committed to protecting the safety and privacy of all its patients. We will ask outside experts to help us scrutinize our practices to ensure they meet the highest standards of safety and security.
When did OHSU first learn of the investigation and what have you done about it?
OHSU first learned Mr. Corbitt was under investigation for alleged child exploitation activities though U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations on Feb. 1, 2012. We placed Mr. Corbitt on unpaid administrative leave the afternoon of Feb. 1, 2012 and took steps to ensure he would not have access to our care environment. We launched our own investigation, including examining the OHSU computers to which Mr. Corbitt had access. OHSU accepted Mr. Corbitt’s resignation on Feb. 10.
What did OHSU learn from its own investigation?
OHSU’s own investigation showed that four non-explicit photos Mr. Corbitt received from the family of a former Doernbecher PICU patient were emailed from Mr. Corbitt’s OHSU email account to his personal email account. Emailing patient images for purposes other than fulfilling OHSU job responsibilities or without proper authorization is a violation of our policy. This information was shared with federal authorities, who deemed it not relevant to their investigation, and the family has been notified.
Why did federal agents begin their investigation of Mr. Corbitt?
The investigation began with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations’ monitoring of activity on Internet child pornography sites and chat rooms. The focus of the federal investigation is Corbitt’s home computer and personal electronic devices.
Why is Homeland Security Investigations in charge of this investigation?
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. Part of its mission is to protect children from sexual predators, including Internet child pornographers, child sex traffickers and those who travel overseas for sex with minors.
About the OHSU Doernbecher Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
- More than a dozen physicians, nurses and other pediatric medical professionals are in the OHSU Doernbecher Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) caring for patients 24 hours a day.
- To ensure the highest standard of care, children are constantly monitored and frequently checked. Families are welcome and encouraged to be at the bedside and spend the night.
- The 20-bed PICU is a high-security unit with locked doors requiring security badge access, security cameras at the entrances and a health unit coordinator who monitors all visitors to the unit.
- PICU patient rooms have glass fronts, allowing continuous visible access to all rooms to alert staff in case any emergencies occur.
- The nurse-to-patient ratio is 1:1 or 2:1, depending on the severity of the patient’s illness or injury.
- The PICU employs 71 medical professionals. In addition to unit staff there is 24/7 presence of attending-level faculty and fellows/residents from a variety of disciplines