October 23, 2012

On October 15, 2012, the surviving wife of a Tennessee prison inmate filed a medical malpractice wrongful death claim against the Tennessee Department of Correction in which she alleges that her 48-year-old husband died in prison due to medical malpractice. Her husband had a lung x-ray in September 2010 that showed a mass that was suspicious for cancer. A follow-up MRI was performed but the results were evidently misplaced. It was not until April or May, 2011 that a lung biopsy was performed that confirmed that the inmate had cancer. Unfortunately, by the time of the biopsy, the cancer had spread to the man’s brain.

Adding to the man’s misery was the fact that treatment for his cancer was not started for several months after his diagnosis. The medical malpractice claim further alleges that when the inmate’s wife visited him in a special prison care unit during his medical treatment, she observed that her husband was not kept clean and his needs were not being met — he smelled from feces and urine from his unchanged adult diapers. The medical malpractice claim further alleges that the wife found feces in her husband’s water pitcher and under his fingernails along with dried blood on the floor.

As the man’s condition deteriorated, he  was transferred to an intensive care unit at a private hospital where his wife was not allowed to speak with her husband’s doctors and she was not allowed to visit with him until two days before his death, and then for only one-half hour.

The inmate died on October 15, 2011 — he would have been eligible for parole in 2014 and his sentence would have been completed in 2016.


Inmates in state and federal jails, prisons, and other correctional facilities in the United States are supposed to receive, and are entitled to receive, appropriate medical care and treatment for their acute and chronic conditions. While most people would agree that inmates do not have the right to choose their medical providers or to have access to the full range of medical treatment options available to patients “on the outside,” we suspect that most people would expect that inmates be treated humanely under the circumstances and that their acute and chronic medical conditions be addressed appropriately and timely.

A prison sentence for a set number of years should not be a death sentence simply because the correctional facility fails to provide timely and proper medical care that the law requires them to provide. Because prison medical care is provided (or not provided) “behind prison walls,” the public is often unaware of the quality or quantity of medical care provided to inmates. Rarely does the public become aware of the medical injustices that inmates suffer while they incarcerated — an inmate’s rare or serious medical condition that is not properly and timely treated through the prison system often causes severe or fatal harm to the sufferers.

If you or a loved one have been injured (or worse) due to possible medical malpractice that occurred in a state or federal prison in the United States, you may have a right to compensation for your injuries and harms. There are medical malpractice attorneys throughout the United States who handle prison medical malpractice claims and may be willing to investigate your prison medical malpractice claim for you.

Click here to visit our website to be connected with local medical malpractice lawyers who may be able to assist you with an inmate medical malpractice claim or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959, if you prefer.

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