On February 17, 2012, a Pennsylvania medical malpractice jury awarded a former Pennsylvania prison inmate $312,000 for the injuries he sustained as a result of the alleged medical malpractice committed by a for-profit company that had contracted with the State Correctional Institution in Albion, Pennsylvania, to provide health care to inmates. The company, Prison Health Services, Inc., has had a contract to provide health care services in Pennsylvania’s correctional facilities for more than ten years that pays the company $55 million per year. The company must pay for all medical procedures and testing out of the $55 million payment, which provides an incentive to the company to limit medical procedures and testing for inmates in order to maximize its profits.
In this particular medical malpractice case, the Pennsylvania inmate had jumped down from his bunk in his prison cell in 2006 and fractured his ankle. His ankle injury was misdiagnosed as a sprain and his ankle was not x-rayed for five days. When an x-ray was finally taken, the fracture was diagnosed and he was transported to a hospital where he had surgery to place pins in his ankle, his ankle was placed in a cast, and he was then returned to prison.
Back in prison, the inmate fell down some steps, injuring his neck, back, and knee. Despite these new injuries, he did not have a MRI to determine the extent of his injuries. Upon his release from prison two years later, he arranged a MRI on his own that showed that he had sustained herniated disks and torn knee ligaments. By then, the inmate suffered from permanent injuries.
In another matter involving health care at the State Correctional Institution in Albion, Pennsylvania, a 48-year-old inmate who had been imprisoned since 1991 was diagnosed in July, 2010 with lung and bone cancer; the lung cancer contributed to his death. Before he died, the inmate suffered from severe and painful bedsores that allegedly were not treated properly. The inmate’s family’s attorney recently requested that the County District Attorney conduct a formal investigation into the man’s death.
The measure of a society is determined by how well it treats its weakest and most vulnerable citizens. Prison inmates are among the weakest and most vulnerable when it comes to the availability of health care because they are truly a “captive” segment of society — they must rely solely on the medical treatment available and the medical treatment provided by the correctional facility in which they are incarcerated. As the two incidents described above exemplify, the consequences of the lack of medical care or inadequate medical care can result in life-long debilitating injuries or death.
If you or a family member were incarcerated and you or your family member did not receive proper, timely, and necessary medical care, resulting in permanent injuries or death, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering, and other related losses. Obtaining the advice of a medical malpractice attorney is an important step in enforcing your legal rights and obtaining compensation.
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