Arizona prison officials accused of delaying inmate medical care

A physician who formerly worked within the Arizona state prison system was called to testify about the quality of care it offers inmates. The doctor spoke at a hearing in Phoenix on Tuesday, Feb. 27. During that hearing, she recounted how, in numerous instances, requests for inmates to receive urgent medical attention or consultations with specialists were denied.

At the hearing, the physician highlighted one case in which an inmate was suspected to be suffering from some type of infectious disease. That inmate was told that no one was available on staff to properly diagnose what it was.

In that situation, an administrator at Corizon Health, the prison system's health provider, instructed the testifying physician how to instead alter records so that it would bypass state auditors and help them avoid fines.

In another case she spoke about at the hearing, the doctor described trying to get one inmate with uncontrollable seizures in for a consultation with a neurologist. In that instance, she was reportedly told that scheduling such an appointment would be too costly. She claims that her superiors instructed her to instead have the patient wear a helmet to protect his head in case he fell.

The physician also recounted numerous instances in which prisoners were returned to their cells without ever being seen by a physician because of staffing shortages.

Additionally, she testified that when medications were prescribed, often times they were in short supply. Many of the inmates therefore didn't get the treatment they so critically needed for their health to improve.

To date, more than 33,000 inmates have accused the Arizona Department of Corrections of having provided inmates with sub par medical care. Future hearings are currently being scheduled to determine whether the state's Corrections Director should be held civilly responsible for the inadequate handling of prisoner's health care during his tenure.

If you've received delayed medical treatment, whether due to bureaucratic red tape or for some other reason, then a Tucson failure to diagnose attorney can advise you of your right to file a lawsuit in your legal matter.

Source: Arizona Daily Sun, "Doctor criticizes quality of health care in Arizona prisons," Jacques Billeaud, Feb. 28, 2018

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