* This happened during break. From the AP…
A court-appointed expert would guide the overhaul of health care for Illinois prison inmates in a proposed federal consent decree filed Thursday.
Lawyers for approximately 40,000 state prison inmates announced that the Illinois Department of Corrections’ agreement would settle an eight-year-old federal lawsuit alleging that prison health care is so inadequate it has led to needless deaths.
A U.S. District judge in Chicago must approve the consent decree, in which the state admits no wrongdoing. It provides for a court-appointed monitor to oversee the complete reconstruction of prison-system health care. The monitor would assist in creating a plan for adequate staffing of medical and dental professionals and an outline for implementing other system-wide changes.
The agreement, signed last month by Corrections Department Director John Baldwin and a legal representative of Gov. Bruce Rauner, contains specific qualifications for physicians and other providers, requires upgraded health care space and equipment, hiring staff members dedicated to infection control, developing an electronic medical records system and implementing a stringent quality assurance program.
No word yet that I can find about how much this will cost.
During the legal battle, reviews by court-appointed experts in 2014 and 2018 reported pervasive problems in the health care provided in Illinois prisons. The most recent report attributed numerous preventable deaths to the poor quality of care, according to court records.
“Based on record reviews, we found that clinical care was extremely poor and resulted in preventable morbidity and mortality,” the 2018 report stated.
In one case, a 24-year-old inmate with mental illness swallowed two sporks and a nurse “documented that the patient ‘will have no complication from swallowing a foreign object,’” according to the 2018 report. Over several months, the inmate complained to several staff members and medical personnel of symptoms related to ingesting the utensils. The inmate died about three months later.
“The death was attributed to a gastrointestinal bleed from lacerations caused by a foreign body,” the 2018 report stated, noting the Corrections Department’s own review “found no problems with medical care.”
The 2014 report includes the case of a 26-year-old inmate at Illinois River Correctional Center who “repeatedly informed health care staff that he had atrial fibrillation, a fact that was confirmed by his jail records, but this history was discounted until he suffered a stroke.
The filing is here.
* How solitary confinement drove a young Illinois prison inmate to the brink of insanity