On September 16, 2015, three Florida inmates filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court seeking a court order permitting them to consult surgeons regarding their need for hernia surgery and authorizing hernia surgeries if deemed necessary. One of the plaintiffs had been advised twice by a surgeon that he needs hernia surgery and the other two plaintiffs, who have hernias, request that the court order that they be provided surgical consultations to determine their need for hernia surgery.
The defendants are the Florida Department of Corrections and Corizon Health, Inc. (“Corizon”), which is the private, for-profit prison health care provider hired and paid by the State of Florida to provide medical services to Florida’s inmates. The financial arrangements between Florida and Corizon provide that Corizon is paid a fixed amount per inmate no matter how much medical care each inmate requires (Corizon is required to pay the Department of Corrections $250 each time the Department is required to transport an inmate in excess of 50 miles roundtrip for medical services, with limited exceptions). Therefore, the plaintiffs allege, Corizon has a major financial incentive to deny and/or fail to provide expensive medical services, which pads Corizon’s profits and protects its bottom line.
In response to the inmates filing their federal lawsuit seeking Corizon to be ordered to provide hernia treatment, a Corizon spokesperson issued a statement on September 16, 2015 that stated, “what makes good business sense and good medical sense is excellent preventative care … [W]e are first and foremost health-care providers. Our mission is to deliver safe, effective and efficient health-care services using best practices and evidence-based medicine.”
Inguinal hernias, which often worsen over time with exertion and physical activity, cause severe pain and can lead to complications, even death, if left untreated (the standard treatment for inguinal hernias is surgery). Hernia surgery is one of the most common types of surgery in the United States. The inmates’ federal class-action lawsuit alleges that the inmates’ right under the Eight Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to be free from cruel and unusual punishment is being violated by the defendants.
The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status based on their allegation that at least 62 Florida inmates have experienced similar situations and that as many as 10,000 Florida inmates may be affected by Corizon’s alleged failure/refusal to provide similar medical services.
We believe that Corizon’s statement that it makes “good business sense” for Corizon to provide “excellent” preventative medical services to Florida inmates under its contract with the State of Florida, which pays a fixed amount per inmate no matter how much medical services are provided to inmates, is disingenuous, at best. If the amount Corizon receives from the State of Florida for inmate medical services is fixed (for the most part), Corizon can only maximize its profits by minimizing the costs of the medical services it provides to Florida inmates.
A detailed report released on June 10, 2015 by The City of New York Department of Investigation regarding New York City’s contract with Corizon to provide medical services for New York City jail inmates concluded, “Corizon has failed to either screen or properly supervise its employees. Further, Corizon staff have, on several occasions, provided inadequate care—sometimes seriously so—and have engaged in other illegal activity. For these reasons, we have significant concerns about Corizon’s suitability as a contractor to provide healthcare services to the City’s jails.”
Corizon provides healthcare services to 104 customers at 526 facilities in 27 U.S. states, to over 335,000 inmates. It is the leading provider of correctional healthcare services in the United States and is headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee.
If you or a family member were seriously injured (or worse) as a result of inadequate, untimely, and/or improper medical care while incarcerated, you should promptly seek the advice of a local attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your prison medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a claim for injuries due to correctional medical malpractice, if appropriate.
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