Did St. Louis Jail Inmate Die Due to Medical Malpractice?

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The family of a St. Louis man who died of complications from diabetes while in police custody in 2009 is saying that medical staff at the jail ignored or minimized the situation, leading to his death. They have filed a medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of the man’s son against the St. Louis Justice Center and a private medical services contractor.

The patient was 31 when he was arrested in May 2009 on a parole violation. He had serious medical problems, such as diabetes and hypertension, and had undergone several operations to replace valves in his heart. When he was arrested, the suspect began suffering chest pains, so the arresting officers took him to the hospital.

The doctor who treated him told the officers that the man needed to have regular blood sugar checks and insulin, as did another doctor at the jail. But according to the man’s family, jail medical staff ignored those orders and did not take his medical distress seriously until it was too late.

According to a timeline provided by the lawsuit, the suspect began showing signs of diabetes-related trouble the afternoon of May 24, four days after he was arrested. Nurses at the jail measured his blood sugar at 228, which is elevated, and administered insulin. But later that evening, when the man began experiencing rapid heartbeat and hallucinations, he was not examined until 4 a.m., when his blood sugar was measured at 325. No insulin was administered until 5:30 p.m. At that point his heart rate was 160.

Fifteen minutes later, the on-call physician ordered the man sent to the emergency room, but by 7 p.m. the man was still at the jail when he collapsed. Ten minutes later an ambulance finally arrived and took the man to St. Louis University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 7:54 p.m.

When a person has a medical emergency in jail, he or she is totally at the mercy of personnel at the facility to receive the care he or she needs. When staff does not maintain regular care, the person’s health is put at risk.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Suit blames St. Louis jail medical care in inmate’s death,” Jennifer Mann, May 24, 2012

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