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Dead prisoner's estate sues doctors for medical malpractice

Prisoners in Louisiana and other states have a constitutional right to receive medical services that are free from negligence and gross negligence. Under the context of their situation, prisoners also have a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment pursuant to Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. In addition to claims for medical malpractice, a prisoner's claim for damages will usually include constitutional counts for deprivation of basic rights.

An example is reflected by a lawsuit recently filed against a medical health services company and several doctors. They were responsible for providing health care services for prisoners at a prison in another state. The lawsuit was filed in federal court by the deceased man's estate.

It alleges that the defendants were grossly negligent and acted in wanton and reckless disregard of the prisoner's constitutional rights. The decedent was allegedly incarcerated at Camp Hill State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania in November 2013. He had been diagnosed with possible throat cancer prior to incarceration, according to the complaint.

He had been scheduled to have a biopsy in a private institution but that was cancelled due to the imprisonment. Despite the clear indications in the decedent's medical records that he most likely had throat cancer, the defendants allegedly ignored and failed to give him any treatment for the critical condition. Due to their gross neglect and failure to look at the medical records and act accordingly, the defendants were a direct legal cause of the man's death, according to the complaint.

A prisoner has the right to competent medical services in Louisiana and all other jurisdictions. When the services are not available, the prison must transfer the prisoner to a private facility for necessary treatment. Although the prison ultimately transferred the decedent to a university hospital in March 2014, his condition was then too far gone. He died on July 1, 2014. In addition to compensatory damages for medical malpractice, the complaint also requests punitive damages due to the alleged gross and wanton failure to address the decedent's symptoms.

Source:, "Woman's suit alleges deadly lack of care for inmate", Annie Hunt, April 21, 2016

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