Could over 6,000 prisoners in Louisiana be suffering from medical negligence? According to a lawsuit that's reached federal court, that's exactly what's been happening for a number of years at the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
According to the lawsuit, inmates are subjected to dismal medical care that is so below acceptable standards that inmates end up suffering excruciating pain, become permanently disfigured or disabled and even die on a regular basis. The medical director for the state when the case began -- who has since been fired over sexual harassment -- claimed that inmates received "quality" medical care, although he acknowledged challenges due to the aging prison population.
In the lawsuit, lawyers for inmates describe a number of experiences that inmates with either chronic or acute medical conditions have suffered as a direct result of substandard medical care. For example:
- A blind prisoner was denied basic adaptive equipment, including a cane.
- An inmate having a stroke was repeatedly denied treatment, which resulted in permanent paralysis and blindness.
- An inmate with throat cancer was denied appropriate care for four years -- allowing his cancer to progress unchecked.
- A prisoner with bone cancer was denied chemotherapy because it was deemed "too expensive" and was only evaluated about every two months until his death.
While these are some specific examples, the basic problems are fairly widespread. The lawsuit states that prisoners are routinely denied medical evaluations and treatments that are necessary for their conditions. Specialty care is almost nonexistent, even for serious conditions.
Inmates who undergo surgery for serious conditions often suffer from a lack of follow-up care. Inmates who have chronic medical conditions have also suffered from medical mismanagement because there aren't enough staff members with the medical qualifications to handle their care.
Inmates in prisons are entitled to the same standard of medical care as any other patient. If you or a loved one suffered lasting harm from medical negligence while incarcerated, an attorney can help you determine your legal rights and options.