On November 29, 2019, the widow of a man who died in 2016 less than twenty hours after he was released from the Allegany County Detention Center in Maryland filed a deliberate indifference medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland located in Baltimore.
The man had an outstanding arrest warrant and had turned himself in at the detention center late on Thanksgiving night. He expected to have a bond hearing on Friday and be released from detention. However, because of the long holiday weekend, the man remained incarcerated for days until a bond hearing could be held. He died after release on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
At the time of his incarceration, the 44-year-old man had a history of congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, asthma, sleep apnea, and suffered from diabetes. The man used insulin to treat his diabetes and also used oxygen. He took multiple prescription medications and was recovering from leg injuries at the time of his incarceration.
Despite his serious pre-existing medical conditions, he was stable when he turned himself in. The staff at the detention center performed a medical screening at the beginning of his detention during which he was found to have high blood pressure and to be in pain. The man revealed his pre-existing medical conditions, his use of alcohol, and his medications to the staff at the time of the initial medical screening.
Despite his symptoms that were consistent with going through withdrawal, he was not placed in the detention center’s medical unit but instead placed in with the general population with a referral for withdrawal treatment. The widow’s federal deliberate indifference medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the detention center’s doctor issued orders for the man but did not examine him.
The man’s condition deteriorated throughout the next day and by the evening, he was in critical condition but no doctor was consulted, according to the wife’s lawsuit. The detention center staff continued to monitor the man over the weekend but did not arrange for emergency medical care. After he had a bond hearing before a federal judge on Monday, the man was released on bond, with instructions to seek treatment from his primary care physician or go to the emergency room. The man’s wife arranged for her husband to see his primary care physician on Wednesday, which was the first available appointment.
On Tuesday, the man’s wife found him dead in their home. A partial autopsy reportedly found that he had died from heart failure.
The widow’s deliberate indifference medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the detention center’s staff were negligent by failing to have the man transferred to the hospital due to the staff being discouraged from transporting prisoners for off-site medical care in order to save costs. Allegany County’s contract with its detention center’s medical care contractor, Correct Care Solutions, reportedly did not cover transportation.
Shelly Kaye Stevens v. Board of County Commissioners for Allegany County, Maryland et al., 1:19-cv-03368.
If you or a loved one may have a claim involving deliberate indifference to a serious medical need involving a present or former inmate, you should promptly find an inmate medical malpractice lawyer in your U.S. state who may investigate your deliberate indifference claim for you and represent you or your loved one in an inmate medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
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