The Illinois Times reported last week on a few concerns that are being raised about a sheriff’s decision to continue using the services of a local doctor even after more than $1 million in Illinois medical malpractice payouts have been made following allegations of inadequate care being provided by the physician. According to the story the doctor and his company have faced literally dozens of Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits where he was named as defendant based on substandard care that he provided in jails throughout the area.
Yet, despite these lawsuits and settlements, which should likely raise alarm bells about the services being offered, sheriffs in communities across our state still sign contracts with the doctor and the company he owns to provide medical services to inmates. The most recent Illinois medical malpractice settlement payout came late last year, when $737,500 was paid to an inmate’s family. There is no specific information listed on the Department of Professional regulation website about the case. However, the timing coincides with a lawsuit filed by the family of an inmate who died after the perforated ulcer that he suffered went untreated.
In a different care of apparently troubling medical care being provided, an inmate was found sitting in a cell with a compound fracture to his lower leg. A pool of blood had built up on the floor and the injury appeared to be gangrenous. The man had previously suffered a broken ankle and head injury following a seizure in his cell. Instead of sending the man to an orthopedic surgeon-as recommend by the emergency room physician-caregivers instead sent him back to his cell. It was there that he became delusional and took off his splint without knowing what he was doing. This led to the aggravation of the injury which ultimately required that his leg be amputated below the knee.
The company is defending itself in another Illinois case this year. That situation involves an inmate who died while having a seizure in his cell. The man had previously been denied his seizure medication for unknown reasons.
A few are questioning whether campaign contributions have factored into the decisions to keep using this company. Sheriffs are elected positions in our state. Therefore, like other officials, sheriffs and candidates often raise large sums of money in order to engage in competitive campaigns. This presents the possibility that those who have a stake in the sheriff’s decision will seek to influence the decision with campaign contributions. The medical firm in question here has made campaign contributions to many different sheriff races.
Of course, our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers are not accusing anyone involved of specifically trading funds for these medical contracts. However, it is always important for local community members to be aware of the potential conflict so as to ensure that a spotlight is shone on the issue. Sunshine is often the best policy in these cases. There will always be some additional issues involved in the medical care of jailed inmates. However, we do not live in a society where our inmates are denied basic medical care and left to languish in horrid circumstances. Instead, inmates must be allowed to serve their time without fear of making it out of the facility alive.
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