Family Sues After Woman Dies Of Pneumonia In Jail
A 34-year-old woman died in jail of pneumonia. Her family says that nurses at the jail never bothered to treat her, even as her condition worsened. Eventually, she died as a result of that neglect. Her family claims that the jail failed to render the prevailing standard of care, which is necessary even for the incarcerated. While inmates don’t necessarily make the best plaintiffs, most folks realize that the state has a duty of care to ensure the safety and health of the incarcerated. When they fail, they are liable.
The lawsuit makes a simple allegation. The plaintiff told jailhouse authorities that she had pneumonia, then she died after not being treated for pneumonia.
The plaintiff was diagnosed with pneumonia and then arrested on Halloween. At intake, the jail took her medication but never provided it to her on a schedule. Since the medication was an antibiotic, her condition worsened. Abruptly stopping antibiotic treatment can cause a virus to develop antibiotic resistance, making future antibiotic treatment far less effective.
Eventually, the prison diagnosed her with a urinary tract infection and provided her with some antibiotics, but by then it was too late. At one point, jailhouse nurses suggested yoga classes for her anxiety problems. However, an autopsy revealed that she died of pneumonia. Her lungs were filled with fluid, and she could not breathe. Proper administration of her antibiotics, or a basic nebulizer treatment, could have saved her life. Pneumonia is quite treatable. It is not a medical zebra. So the failure of care in a case like this is astounding.
Who can you sue?
The company that provides medical services to the prison is a private company, not the government. However, this company enjoys sovereign immunity from certain types of claims as a government contractor. The only way to void their sovereign immunity is by making the claim that they violated the terms of their contract with the government.
Since most jailhouse medical malpractice lawsuits do not involve procedures that have a success rate below 50%, these are just basic failures of a system that doesn’t work. In a case like this, the inmate told guards about her condition and they still misdiagnosed her twice. She died because no one had a clue or showed evidence that they cared.
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