Poor Medical Care in a US Jail

 According to The Virginian-Pilot, a sister of a 54-year-old man who died at a jail filed a $5 million wrongful death suit in federal court against the sheriff and jail medical staff, alleging “deliberate indifference”. 

The lawsuit alleged poor medical care, in violation of the 8th and 14th US Constitution Amendments.  The 8th Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.  The 14th Amendment prohibits deprivation of life and liberty by states. 

The man’s sister’s claims were similar to those raised by the family of another jail inmate who died in 2001 from liver failure. In a third situation, the family of a woman who died at the jail after choking on a wrist band, raised questions about the quality of medical care at the jail, complaining the medical staff should have called an ambulance when the woman became erratic.

In the case of the age 54 man, he entered the jail on October 29, 2010, to serve a 10-day sentence for driving with a suspended driver’s license. Five days after he started his sentence, he was rushed to emergency, and died.

Per the lawsuit, he told a nurse when he arrived at the jail he suffered from diabetes and hypertension.  He said he needed particular medications.  The lawsuit said he didn’t receive the medications for four days.  When the jail provided him medications, he got the insulin for his diabetes, but nothing to control hypertension.

On November 3, 2010, the man reported to jail staff he had severe pain. He was unsteady and sweated. According to the lawsuit, he collapsed, and was taken to the infirmary, where the jail medical staff inferred “he was malingering”.  When he returned to his cell, a deputy, a doctor and nurses informed other inmates the man was “faking blindness”.

Later, the man reported he felt nauseated and fainted.  According to the lawsuit, he remained unconscious for 15 minutes.  When he attempted to get up, he hit his head on a toilet and became unconscious.  The inmates in his cell block banged on the window until the deputies removed him. Jail staff called emergency, and the man was taken away in handcuffs.

At the hospital, he was diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage. After being pronounced brain dead on November 4, 2010, he died on November 7, 2010.

Sadly, medical malpractice occurs every day in jails throughout the US.  Medical malpractice occurs when jail staff deviates from the reasonable standard of care in the medical community and causes injury or death to the inmate.


To learn more about what to do when you or a loved one wants to recover in a medical malpractice claim, contact an experienced Hawaii personal injury attorney.

Posted in Medical Malpractice

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