Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Feds: Healthcare at Dallas County Jail 'Grossly Inadequate'

Via Unfair Park, the feds have completed their analysis of healthcare in the Dallas County jail (where 11 inmates died from poor medical are in the last three years) and concluded healthcare at the jail is "grossly inadequate." Unfair Park, the blog of the Dallas Observer, obtained an advance copy. Matt Pulle writes:
The report chronicles a pattern of reckless and inept medical care at just about every level, including failing to provide adequate screening, acute care treatment and management of communicable disease, among other lapses. The report also found “numerous additional instances of deficient chronic care that put inmates’ health and lives at serious risk.” Among the more egregious findings:

At least 11 inmates died at the jail during a three-year period directly because of the poor medical care at the jail. One inmate died of pneumocystis pneumonia after he did not receive an antibiotic he was prescribed at the time of intake. Another inmate with a documented history of alcholism and seizures went without physician or nursing care. He became disoriented, suffered from elevated blood pressure and developed a fever. Later, after he was found lying in his own feces, it took staff five hours to transfer him to the hospital where he later died. Another inmate hung himself after which a physician’s assistant said he was unable to attend to him because no detention service officer was available to escort him to the cell. The report concluded that the “current suicide practices are grossly inadequate.”

The report — signed by Wan J. Kim, the assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division — also found that at the Dallas County Jail, inmates “routinely miss doses of life-sustaining medications,” which has resulted in several deaths. Even on the first day Department of Justice investigators toured the jail, a “significant portion” of the jail’s 7,000 inmates did not receive their medication. In addition, investigators observed medical staff administering incorrect doses of insulin to inmates, which it concluded could result in serious illness or death.

Investigators also cited the jail for failing to assess and treat inmates with mental health issues, resulting in a deterioration of certain symptoms, along with “unnecessary suffering.” In one case, even after numerous referrals for psychiatric care, an inmate languished without care for two months before staff attended to him — and then only after he had been lying in his own excrement for days. The inmate had not been receiving his anti-psychotic medication and was later hospitalized for dehydration and kidney failure.

The report also referred to the jail’s sanitation practices, which falls under Valdez’s responsibilities, as “grossly inadequate.” Investigators found that “parts of the jail are filthy, subjecting inmates to an increased risk of health problems.” Several toilets were leaking, floor and shower drains are in poor condition, while investigators spotted large concentrations of drain flies and fly larvae in the bathroom.”

I've written before that the Dallas County jail can be bad for your health. At this point, it sounds like Dallas is probably ripe for a class action lawsuit over poor medical care. The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division has threatened legal action in seven weeks if problems aren't resolved.

In California, similar litigation caused federal courts to put the prison health system in receivership and appoint a health czar who reports to a federal judge, not state officials. If Dallas county commissioners and Sheriff Lupe Valdez are wise, they'll hustle to spend what's necessary to fix the problem BEFORE that happens to them.

UPDATE: See the Dallas News coverage.

8 comments:

texsistersinjail said...

Very glad to see this being brought to light. We are doing a caravan from Austin to the Dallas County Commissioners meeting in late January on behalf of women in the jail there....
See a story on our website: texasjailproject.org
by recent inmate Margie Snider. This Dallas mother describes her experience trying to get her regular medication as well as the lack of care for an HIV positive woman with open sores.

Anonymous said...

I worked in a jail as a Corrections Deputy for 7 years (not in Texas) and I can tell you that it IS disturbing to see the attitude of most medical staff towards inmates. I no longer work in the profession as I was becoming incredibly depressed over the attitudes of fellow co-workers and other staff. Many inmates worried that one day I would quit and I'm glad I was seen as a fair and compassionate "guard". But, jail is a hard place for a person with a heart. The bottom line is, I always treated people as though it could have been a family member; I just wish other people who work in jails would do the same.

Brenda H. Collier said...

I am an attorney and I represent the former Nurse Supervisor at the McLennan County Jail who reported the grossly inadequate medical assistance at the Jail and after six months of trying to get change to happen, was fired due to her reporting the problem. A lawsuit is pending against the County on her behalf. Anyone with information AND willing to be public about retaliation for reporting poor medical conditions at the McLennan County Jail from October 2006- March 2007 can contact me. Please be aware that since this is a lawsuit, your response cannot be kept confidential, and I may or may not be able to respond.
Brenda H. Collier brenda@collierlaw.com

Loretta said...

My name is Loretta, and this comment is for the law suit in Mclennan county if this is the one in Waco,Tx, then I have a lot to say about that place.Me and four other girls where transfer from SanAntnio,Tx to Mclennan County to serve our last month there.
And that place is just no-place for anyone.I can still remember when I first got there having to sleep on the kitchen floor of the cells because that had no beds available, that place was so pack some of us had to sleep also my the restrooms that where right by where we had to eat.So if one had to use the bathroom we all had to see her and smell the odor.
I also remember one time me and this friend name Wendy where sent to locked-down(thats what the call it)because we refuse to have the guards body search us.That was awlful.The guards would take one by one and have the inmates pull thier draws down and they would check.I have a lot to say about that place.979-282-2719 or 979-453-0745

Anonymous said...

ALL I CAN SAY IS THAT , AS SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN UNFORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE BEEN ON THE INMATE SIDE OF THE DALLAS COUNTY JAIL, PEOPLE ON THE OUTSIDE THINK WHAT THEY READ ABOUT THIS PLACE IS BAD. THATS ONLY ABOUT HALF OF WHAT REALLY GOES ON IN THAT HELL-HOLE. THEY HAVE A REAL DONT GIVE A DAMN TILL YOU DROP ATTITUDE IN THERE....AND ITS NOT THE GUARDS...ITS THE MEDICAL STAFF ITSELF. THEY ARE LAZY, AND FRANKLY, IF YOU ARENT BLEEDING OR UNCONCIOUS THEN YOU PRETTY MUCH ARE WASTING YOUR TIME TRYING TO GET ANY KIND OF MEDICAL ATTENTION IN THERE.

Anonymous said...

THIS IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG GUYS. THE FEDS NEED TO COME DOWN FAST AND HARD….. NOW!

I CURRENTLY WORK AT PAM LYCHNER. HAVE YOU EVER HAPPENED TO THINK THAT MAYBE THE REASON SOME OF THIS IS GOING ON IS BECAUSE WE HAVE NO AIR CONDITIONING 90% OF THE TIME? WE CAN’T OPEN A WINDOW OR DOOR BECAUSE IT IS A SECURITY RISK. IT IS LIKE AN OVEN INSIDE THE ALIUMIN BUILDINGS AND WE HAVE TO WORK IN THERE. WE ARE TRYING NOT TO MAKE MISTAKES BUT THE HEAT IS KILLING US. I FEEL SORRY FOR THE POOR INMATES WHO CAN’T GO HOME IN THE EVENINGS TO AC.

For the past month the Pam Lychner Unit (2350 Atascocita Road, Humble, Texas 77396 (281) 454-5036) has been without any air conditioning in the medical building. This may not seem like a big problem to some people. However, if you are a prisoner or you work there it is as if you are put in an oven to cook. Just think of all the germs that are in the perfect conditions to breed, nice hot warm moist, stagnant air. Considering that a large percentage of prisoners have HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and AIDS. How would you like to be doing a surgical procedure on someone with one of these diseases in full surgical garb? You add a good 10 degrees to your body temperature.

You are probably wondering why we do not report this to OSHA! This is a state jail they are not covered by OSHA. “TDCJ is not under the jurisdiction of OSHA.” http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/publications/health-svcs/TDCJ%20Bloodborne%20Pathogen%20Training.pdf . Many of us have tried to resolve this problem but the only response we get is “SHUT UP”, threats of being fired if we complain and “I WOULD NOT IF I WERE YOU”. It is for this reason that I must remain anonymous.

Anonymous said...

I have a loved one who was just released from Lychner state jail.
He said the same thing. He was assaulted badly had to be taken to 3 different hospitals for Reconstrutive surgery on the ear.Plus other terrible problems.
It's an ongoing physical fight to survive one day to the next.I'm trying to figure out who to write to.

anonymous

sensual biting said...

always jails don't have any sanitation control its a horror we need to send sanitation to help them.