On January 31, 2012, the mother of a Kentucky inmate filed a wrongful death medical malpractice claim arising out of the death of her 26-year-old incarcerated son due to alleged failure to provide necessary medical care including the failure to provide him with his daily medicine for a congenital heart condition. On June 25, 2011 (seven days after being arrested and placed in jail), the inmate was found without a pulse in the jail’s medical unit.
The inmate had been transferred to the medical unit just two hours prior to his death, even though he had requested to be transferred to the medical unit 19 hours before he died. A nurse and a mental health specialist evaluated the inmate’s condition at the time he requested medical attention but reportedly advised a corrections officer that the inmate was “manipulating the system.”
Upon being found unresponsive, he was transferred to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The coroner subsequently ruled that his death was due to “natural causes.”
About five hours before her son’s death, the mother had telephoned the jail because she was concerned about her son’s erratic behavior at which time she advised the staff about her son’s need for medication. The inmate was reportedly taking Sotalol for his heart condition, which is used to treat irregular heartbeats (Sotalol is in a class of medications known as antiarrhythmics) and is usually taken by mouth on an empty stomach once or twice each day. The dosing instructions for Sotalol emphasize that the medication must be taken strictly as prescribed, at the times prescribed, and that doses must not be skipped. (Source)
The Kentucky medical malpractice complaint alleges that the man had been in good health before he was jailed and that he was not in any distress from his heart condition when he was first incarcerated. However, the failure of the jail to provide the man with his necessary medication caused his condition to steadily deteriorate, resulting in his death, according to the lawsuit.
When someone is jailed, personal freedoms and certain legal rights are severely limited or curtailed. However, the right to timely and adequate medical care, even while incarcerated, is a basic human right recognized by our laws and is not supposed to be infringed upon while sitting in jail.
While the higher level of medical care available outside of jail is usually not available or provided in correctional facilities, each correctional facility is required to be able to provide a minimum level of medical care to inmates or to arrange to transfer an inmate in a timely fashion to an appropriate outside medical facility for treatment if the inmate cannot receive the necessary medical care while in the correctional facility.
Our laws punish people who commit serious crimes by incarcerating them but the punishment is not supposed to be a death sentence due to the lack of appropriate and timely medical care while incarcerated. It is not uncommon for newly jailed individuals who are on regular daily medications to not receive their next dosage of medication at the time that they would have taken their medication had they not been jailed. But people who are on necessary medications for life-threatening conditions must be treated in a fashion consistent with their medical conditions. Perhaps the inmates most at risk when first arrested are those who take uncommon or expensive medications and do not have their medications in their possession at the time of their arrest.
If you are the victim of medical negligence, the advice of medical malpractice attorneys is essential to protecting your legal rights. Click here to visit our website or call us toll free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may be able to assist you with your medical malpractice claim.
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