Guy S. DiMartino, DC, JD
Attorney At Law
Doctor of Chiropractic
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Jail Medical Malpractice & Deliberate Indifference

Florida & Indiana Jail & Prison Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Jails are usually run by the local municipality, whether it is a city, county or village.  Generally, jails house inmates for a few days up to one year.  Usually, a person who is sentenced for over one year will be remanded to the state’s department of corrections (prison). Jails may also house prisoners from the state’s department of corrections for short bouts when they are brought back to the municipality for court.

Jails and prisons are responsible to provide medical care to incarcerated individuals.  Many small municipalities do not have full time doctors on staff and will usually contract with local doctors to come to facility once or twice per week.  In these facilities the primary healthcare is a nurse or physician’s assistant.

Additionally, there are a number of private corporations that have jumped into the healthcare business in jails and prisons.  These contractors are private, for- profit corporations.  Generally, these corporations will come in a place a bid for all medical services during the contract period.  These corporations sell themselves to the municipalities or the department of corrections stating that they will contain costs and undertake the risk of medical costs above the terms of the contract.  If the cost of providing medical care is less than the amount bid, they make a profit.  If the cost of providing medical care is more than the amount bid, they lose money.

The following are a few corporations that are in the correctional medicine business:

Prison Health Services, Inc.  (“PHS”)
Correctional Medical Services, Inc. (“CMS”)
Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc.
Geo Group

Inmates in the jail and prison settings usually become victims of malpractice for the following reasons:

Profit.  The for-profit corporations will usually take the position that most medical conditions are self-limiting and they will not provide needed diagnostic tests or referrals to hospitals or surgeons because this money comes out of the till.  They will usually withhold necessary treatment hoping that the inmate will be bailed out or remanded to the state’s department of correction. 

Quality of Healthcare Providers:  A person has to ask why a physician would decide to practice in a jail or prison. Below are some real life examples:

             -  A new or semi-retired doctor moonlights to make some extra money
             -  A doctor gets in trouble with Medicaid and Medicare in private practice so                  he is not able to participate in these programs
            -  A doctor can’t keep his hands off of female patients so a male prison who                  be a prime spot for this person
            -  A doctor who is rehabilitating from alcohol or drug abuse
            -  A doctor who is on some form of probation from the medical licensing                         board
            -  A doctor who has come from another country with a license that                                 designates him as a physician in an area of need.  These doctors usually                  do not have to go through residencies in the United States.

Types of Malpractice Cases:  Typically, the types of malpractice cases that I have seen in jail and prison settings originate from the points stated above.

Failure to Refer:  Because of monetary concerns, the jail healthcare provider fails to timely refer the inmate to the hospital for tests or appropriate emergency care.  Dr. DiMartino has seen the following cases in a jail or prison setting:

          -  Failure to x-ray broken ankle or wrist
          -  Failure to timely refer a patient with a spider bite to the emergency                             department
          -  Failure to order heart testing, x-rays, MRIs or CT Scans
          -  Failure to refer to cardiologist, neurologist, orthopedist,  surgeon,                              endocrinologist or infectious disease specialist

Failure to Timely Recognize a Medical Emergency:

         -  Rhabdomyolysis – Acute Renal Failure following a beating from police                        officers
         -  Heart Attack
         -  Asthma
         -  Ectopic Pregnancy
         -  Suicide Risk
         -  Head Injury following an altercation with other inmates
         -  Broken bone following altercation with other inmates
         -  Electrolyte imbalance

Contact Dr. Guy S. DiMartino immediately by phone (352) 267-9168 or online if you have been seriously injured or a family member has died because of malpractice in a jail or prison setting.

Deliberate Indifference to a Serious Medical Need

Florida –Indiana Deliberate Indifference Lawyer

The factual scenarios that lead to a medical malpractice action in a jail or prison (link to page above) setting can also provide a constitutional law cause of action under the deliberate indifference for a serious medical need standard. If the facts are egregious (bad) enough, it may be beneficial to pursue a constitutional as opposed to medical malpractice cause of action for two reasons: (1) the potential for punitive damages; and (2) the potential to have the defendant pay your attorney’s fees.

The deliberate indifference standard originates from the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Cruel & Unusual Punishment Clause), and can be applied in a jail setting through the Fourteenth Amendment.

The United States Supreme Court articulated the deliberate indifference to a serious medical need standard in the hallmark case of Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S.  97 (1976).  Under the constitution, a claim of inadequate medical care requires a showing of acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence the deliberate indifference to a serious medical need or the unnecessary infliction of pain.  A serious medical need is “one that has been diagnosed by a physician as mandating treatment or one that is so obvious that even a lay person would easily recognize the necessity for a doctor’s attention.”  Hill v. DeKalb County Reg’l Detention Center, 40 F.3d 1176, 1187 (11th Cir. 1994). 

Deliberate indifference is not medical malpractice, negligence or neglect.  Also, deliberate indifference is not simply a difference of opinion between an inmate and a healthcare provider regarding diagnosis and treatment.  

The following are some factual scenarios that may support a claim of deliberate indifference to a serious medical need:

Cessation of antipsychotic drugs that resulted in repeated suicide attempts and self-mutilation.
Suicide following misdiagnosis and mistreatment of psychosis.
Failure to timely evaluate and treatment a broken leg, arm, wrist.
Failure to refer inmates with abdominal as well as inguinal hernias for a surgical opinion.
Failure to treat asthma
Failure to treat heart attack

Contact Dr. Guy S. DiMartino immediately by phone (352) 267-9168 or online if you have been seriously injured or a family member has died because of malpractice in a jail or prison setting.

2 Locations

Lake County, Florida
7309 Otter Creek Court
P.O. Box 186
Yalaha, Florida 34797
Phone: (352) 267-9168
Fax: (866) 887-3026

Lake County, Indiana
9696 Gordon Drive
Highland, Indiana 46322
Phone: (866) 981-5255   
Fax: (866) 887-3026