What rights do the incarcerated in our country have? Many are surprised to learn that the inmates in our prison systems do maintain certain rights guaranteed to them by law. Principle among those rights is good health. So, why was an inmate denied medical care in a Douglas County jail? Our prisons and jails are supposed to administer healthcare to individuals locked up in these facilities, and when this doesn’t happen, it can be up to attorneys to set things straight.
Douglas County Inmate Denied Medical Care, But Why?
On November 10, 2016, Kevin Hartwell was taken to Douglas County jail to await trial on a misdemeanor domestic-violence charge. He would remain at the jail only until November 30th, when an ambulance rushed the man to Castle Rock Adventist Hospital.
During his stay at the jail, Hartwell had received medical attention from Southwest Correctional Medical Group employees. This group, contracted by the county, attended Hartwell for diabetes, high blood pressure and a seizure disorder, but that care was woefully insufficient. The 55-year-old inmate was only examined and cared for by nurses while a physician was regularly contacted on the phone. Evidence suggests that not only was the medical staff unable to diagnose the medical problems plaguing Mr. Hartwell, some of the doctor’s orders that would have helped this patient were either uncharted or not done at all.
Did Mr. Hartwell Survive?
This lack of treatment resulted in the dangerous fluctuation of Hartwell’s blood pressure and blood sugar. It also allowed the man’s seizure disorder, which had been controlled by medication before he was incarcerated, to flare up unchecked. It is now estimated that Hartwell may have had over 200 seizures while staying at the jail. He suffered dizziness, shortness of breath and feared for his life.
On November 29th, Hartwell went into a state of constant seizure known as status epilepticus. When medical staff could not snap him out of it, he was finally rushed to the emergency room. Mr. Hartwell’s wife came to the emergency room to give doctors his medical information, however, jail officials would not let her interact with the doctors. She finally secured a court order and was allowed to inform doctors of Hartwell’s medical conditions. Until then, the hospital had little idea how to treat the man for the ailments he was suffering from.
Hartwell has since recovered, but he did not come out of the ordeal unscathed. He now suffers from fatigue, cognitive impairments and his seizure disorder is still out of control necessitating frequent hospital visits.
Metier Law Firm associate attorney Galen Trine-McMahan has filed a lawsuit on this inmate’s behalf in federal court. The case alleges negligence on the part of the county and its contracted healthcare provider.