Originally published April 11 2014
Inmate's legs, testicle and part of colon removed after prison doctor negligently denied him hospitalization, lawsuit states
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) A prison physician could be held liable as a result of a civil suit for allegedly refusing to hospitalize an inmate who later lost his legs and other body parts to infection, a federal judge has ruled.
In an 18-page decision, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa of the Southern District of Texas described the allegations in a light that appeared more favorable to the plaintiff, Donald Eubanks, "as is customary at the summary-judgment stage," Courthouse News Service reported.
The ruling said Eubanks had already been paralyzed from a car accident for 27 years when he began serving a life sentence in 2009 after being convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child. Eubanks, who will be 60 in July, was reportedly in good health when he entered the Galveston County jail.
Within a month, however, court papers say Eubanks began to develop painful pressure sores, which are known as decubitus ulcers. Dr. Aftab Ahmad, with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), agreed to transfer Eubanks to the Jester Unit in Brazoria County, despite having read a letter from Eubanks' doctor recommending the inmate be hospitalized immediately.
No one was listening
According to court papers, Ahmad instead decided that hospitalization was not necessary, though Eubanks was suffering from both multiple sores and diarrhea. Ahmed also ordered him to stop taking his medications.
In testimony, Eubanks said another corrections doctor, Kokila Naik, examined him a couple of days after he came to the Jester Unit. She apparently noted the ulcers but allegedly did not follow up to see if they had become infected, court papers said.
Eubanks asked Naik how the TDCJ was prepared to treat his ulcers if they became infected, and was allegedly told that she could not properly treat them at the facility where he was being held, but that she would still not agree to transfer him to a hospital.
Courthouse News Service reported:
Eubanks said he continued to press prison officials for a transfer to a hospital as his ulcers got worse and he began suffering from vomiting, fever and chills, along with bowel and bladder incontinence.
Getting desperate, Eubanks allegedly sent Ahmad a request for medical services.
Ahmad saw Eubanks a few days later about his incontinence but did not check to see if his ulcers were infected.
At that point, court papers say, Eubanks sent a medical services request to Naik, informing her that constant drainage from the ulcers required changing their bandages three to four times per day; he also repeated an urgent request to be sent to the hospital.
The court said that doctors allegedly told Eubanks to stay off of his bottom, where many of the ulcers were present, but he informed them he could not do that because his daily routine required the use of a wheelchair.
Judge harder on one physician than the other
Some days later, Ahmad finally examined Eubank's ulcers and took a culture. At that point, the inmate's health worsened, and he was finally transferred out of the Jester Unit to the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, court papers said.
In order to save his life, doctors had to amputate both of his legs at the hip and remove a portion of his colon and a testicle, the papers said.
Eubanks' civil complaint regarding his treatment has been amended twice; left intact were claims of deliberate indifference against both Naik and Ahmad, and an Americans With Disabilities Act claim against the TDCJ. Costa stripped the action down further a week earlier by throwing out claims against the TDCJ and Ahmad, finding that the latter was entitled to qualified immunity, because he did not appear to show deliberate indifference against Eubanks. "Rather, he appears to have continually made a medical judgment that the ulcers did not require hospitalization," the judge wrote.
Costa, however, was less accommodating to Naik, and did not accept her qualified-immunity claim.
"Naik allegedly told Eubanks that she knew that she could not treat him properly at Jester but would not transfer him to another facility," the ruling states. "That decision and what happened afterwards therefore could be interpreted as deliberate indifference: Eubanks remained at Jester for another month under Naik's care, and by the end of that month, his condition had completely devolved."
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