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Consent Decree Entered Regarding Minnesota Prison Medical Care

On May 27, 1997, a consent decree enumerating the medical rights of
prisoners in the Minnesota State Prison was entered in the District Court
for the District of Minnesota.

Plaintiffs, Minnesota state prisoners, brought an action under the Civil
Rights Act alleging that the medical care and medical facilities at MSP
violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiffs and defendant
MSP eventually reached an agreement as to the prisoners' medical care,
medical staffing, medical services and various other issues.

As to medical care, it was agreed that the prisoners were entitled to the
provisions of Minn.Stat. § 144.651 (1974), commonly known as
the "Patient's Bill of Rights," to the fullest extent possible; to
adequate medical care regardless of indigency or how close they were to
release; adequate medication regardless of prior drug conviction(s) or
drug dependency; to have only a physician prescribe or cancel mediations;
to a physical and psychological examination upon entering MSP; to free
prosthetic devices where medically indicated; to participate in mass
inoculation programs initiated by government agencies; to a physical
examination upon release if imprisoned for one year or longer; and to be
treated by a private physician at their personal expense.

Regarding medical staffing, MSP would be required to provide a single
administrator "responsible for the overall health care program at" MSP;
adequate medical staff, including a full-time physician and medical staff
on daily, weekly, and 'on-call' duty; consultant services; and a "sick
call" held each weekday. MSP also agreed that no non-medical staff would
override the "judgment of the medical staff with respect to medical

Concerning medical services at the prison, MSP would be required to
perform only minor surgeries at the prison; to adequately sterilize
equipment and keep it in good repair; to upgrade and improve the health
care facilities at MSP, including performing safety checks; and to adhere
to advice of medical experts and consultants.

The MSP further agreed to provide special diets to prisoners when
medically indicated.

With respect to solitary confinement, "a staff psychologist would make a
minimum of one round every two weeks..."; confined prisoners would be
permitted to speak directly to medical staff when unable to effectively
communicate in writing or orally; and no confined prisoner would be denied
medical care or attention. See: Hines v. Anderson, 439 F.Supp. 12 (DC MN

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Related legal case

Hines v. Anderson

HINES v. ANDERSON, 439 F. Supp. 12 (D.Minn. 05/27/1977)


[2] 4-73 Civ. 387

[3] 439 F. Supp. 12, 1977

[4] May 27, 1977

[5] Howard HINES, Robert Monge, Emil R. Johnson, Wardell Hicks, Individually and on Behalf of All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiffs,
Wendell ANDERSON, Individually and as Governor of the State of Minnesota, Kenneth Schoen, Individually and as Corrections Commissioner of the State of Minnesota, Bruce McManus, Individually and as Warden of the Minnesota State Prison, Dr. James Cicero, Individually and as Medical Director of the Minnesota State Prison, Dr. Warren Lawson, Individually and as Secretary and Executive Officer of the Minnesota State Board of Health, Defendants

[6] James P. Cullen, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for plaintiffs. , Greer E. Lockhart, Richards, Montgomery, Cobb & Bassford, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for Dr. Cicero. , Thomas H. Jensen, Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., St. Paul, Minnesota, for Wendell Anderson, et al.

[7] Larson, District Judge.

[8] The opinion of the court was delivered by: LARSON


[10] LARSON, District Judge.

[11] The Plaintiffs, having filed their complaint herein on August 7, 1973, and the Defendants having thereafter filed answers to such complaint denying the substantive allegations thereof, and the Plaintiffs and the Defendants, by and through their respective attorneys, having agreed to the making and entry of this order, without trial or adjudication of any issue of fact or law herein, and without admission by any party in respect to any issue, and both Plaintiffs and Defendants being desirous of the entry of this order and consent decree, and the Court being satisfied that the provisions of this order and consent decree are fairly supported by facts on file in this action:


[13] I.

[14] This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action and of the parties hereto. The complaint states claims upon which relief may be granted against the Defendants under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 and the 8th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

[15] II.

[16] As used in this decree:

[17] a. Wherever an individual Defendant is personally identified, this order and decree shall apply to him or his agents, servants, employees, representatives or successors in interest.

[18] b. "Medical care" shall mean and include examination, diagnosis and treatment.

[19] c. "Prison hospital" means the physical facility located within the confines of the Minnesota State Prison, Stillwater, Minnesota, whether or not presently licensed or properly referred to as a "hospital."

[20] d. "Prison health care facility" or "prison infirmary" means the physical facility located within the confines of the Minnesota State Prison at Stillwater, Minnesota, which was formerly licensed by the Minnesota State Board of Health as a hospital.

[21] e. "Purely elective surgery" means, with respect to medical opinion and judgment, surgery which is not required to alleviate, correct or remedy a given problem or condition, the situation being such that an average patient might well tolerate it and forego surgery, e.g., resetting of an old fractured bone, which has long since healed and does not cause anything but minor discomfort.

[22] f. "Purely cosmetic surgery" means that which is performed for the purpose of improving or beautifying the body or physical appearance or correcting a condition which presents no medical threat, e.g., removal of a birthmark or tattoo.

[23] g. "24-hour lockup" means those situations in which an inmate is confined to a cell or cubicle for a substantial portion of the day and evening hours. "Substantial" means 18 hours or more in a 24-hour period.

[24] h. The words "doctor" and "physician" are used interchangeably. They include individuals licensed to practice medicine in the State of Minnesota and do not include Ph.D.'s unless coupled with an M.D. They do not include interns or residents unless specifically provided.

[25] i. "Parties" means all of the Plaintiffs and all of the Defendants.

[26] III.

[27] The Plaintiffs and Defendants have agreed to a stipulation settling this case and providing for the terms and provisions of this consent decree. On the basis of said stipulation and agreement, it is hereby ordered that the claims of the Plaintiffs herein for monetary damages, both individually and on behalf of a class of defined inmates, are hereby dismissed with prejudice. This dismissal of monetary claims shall not prejudice the right of any individual unnamed member of the class, defined in IV, infra, to assert, in another proceeding or action, any claim he may have for damages as a result of any alleged medical deprivation or malpractice, recognizable in law or equity, similar to those claims raised by the Plaintiffs herein. Defendants shall not have available to them, for a reasonable time hereafter, the defense of statute of limitations, in the event any member of said class shall assert such a claim, unless such defense were available to the Defendants as of August 7, 1973. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this consent decree, and the issues addressed and provided for herein, is binding on all members of the class of inmates defined in IV, infra, and the same may not be relitigated in conjunction with the assertion of any such monetary claim.

[28] IV.

[29] This Court determines that the individual Plaintiffs have properly instituted this action pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and declares this to be a proper class action with respect to all issues of declaratory and injunctive relief and maintainable on behalf of all inmates of the Minnesota State Prison who are now or may in the future be in the need of medical care, including examination, diagnosis or treatment, while so confined.

[30] V.

[31] Frank M. Wood, Warden, Minnesota State Prison, is hereby substituted for Bruce McManus, former Warden of the Minnesota State Prison, in his official capacity only. This substitution is made pursuant to stipulation of the parties and Rule 25(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

[32] VI.

[33] That this Court makes no finding that said Defendants have, in fact, mistreated, deprived or neglected the individual Plaintiffs or members of the Plaintiff class. That, nonetheless, the terms and provisions of this order and decree shall be implemented by the Defendants, their successors, agents, employees and representatives, forthwith, as if the same had been involuntarily ordered:

[34] VI.A.


[36] 1. To the fullest extent possible in the prison environment, the provisions of Minn.Stat. § 144.651 (1974), commonly known as the "Patients' Bill of Rights," shall apply to inmates who receive medical care and treatment at the Minnesota State Prison. The provisions are as follows:


It is the intent of the legislature and the purpose of laws 1973, Chapter 688 to promote the interests and well being of the patients and residents of health care facilities. It is declared to be the public policy of this state that the interests of the patient be protected by a declaration of a patient's bill of rights which shall include but not be limited to the following:


(1) Every patient and resident shall have the right to considerate and respectful care;


(2) Every patient can reasonably expect to obtain from his physician or the resident physician of the facility complete and current information concerning his diagnosis, treatment and prognosis in terms and language the patient can reasonably be expected to understand. In such cases that it is not medically advisable to give such information to the patient the information may be made available to the appropriate person in his behalf;


(3) Every patient and resident shall have the right to know by name and specialty, if any, the physician responsible for coordination of his care;


(4) Every patient and resident shall have the right to every consideration of his privacy and individuality as it relates to his social, religious, and psychological well being;


(5) Every patient and resident shall have the right to respectfulness and privacy as it relates to his medical care program. Case discussion, consultation, examination, and treatment are confidential and should be conducted discreetly;


(6) Every patient and resident shall have the right to expect the facility to make a reasonable response to the requests of the patient;


(7) Every patient and resident shall have the right to obtain information as to any relationship of the facility to other health care and related institutions insofar as his care is concerned, [and;]


(8) The patient and resident have the right to expect reasonable continuity of care which shall include but not be limited to what appointment times and physicians are available.

[46] Provided, that nothing in this paragraph shall be interpreted as governing confidentiality of inmate medical records, which is treated fully by the parties in part VI.E, infra.

[47] 2. No inmate shall be deprived of necessary and adequate medical care, including examination, diagnosis and treatment by reason of his status as an inmate, by reason of his indigency, or because he is close in time to release, discharge or parole. Such necessary and adequate care need not include purely elective surgery or treatments or surgery purely cosmetic in nature.

[48] 3. No inmate shall be deprived of necessary or adequate medication by reason of his having been convicted of a drug-related offense, nor by reason of his drug dependency, unless a decision to so deprive him has been made by a physician employed at the Minnesota State Prison in the exercise of his best medical judgment with reference to the inmate's medical condition. No person other than a physician shall purport to prescribe prescription medications for an inmate; nor shall a prescription be interfered with, taken away or revoked by anyone other than a medical doctor, or by one acting pursuant to his order and direction. The nursing staff may dispense and order non-prescription medication. Nothing in this stipulation shall be construed so as to require administration of methadone in any drug maintenance program.

[49] 4. All inmates entering the Minnesota State Prison shall receive a medical examination, both physical and psychological, and the results of such examinations shall be duly noted in the medical records of each respective inmate. These examinations shall follow current medical practice and consist of at least the following:


a. Physical Examinations


(1) A health history interview;


(2) A blood test, which shall normally consist of a blood count, V.D.R.L. and blood pressure test, but which shall be more comprehensive where medically indicated;


(3) Urine test;


(4) Chest X-Ray;


(5) Mantoux test;


(6) Eye examination;


(7) Tetanus Toxoid Injection;


(8) In addition, inmates over forty


(40) years of age shall receive an EKG and a glaucoma test.


b. Psychological.

[61] A psychological test and/or examination as determined by a certified psychologist shall be administered to each inmate who enters the Minnesota State Prison.

[62] 5. Where medically indicated, an indigent inmate shall be furnished, free of charge, prosthetic devices such as artificial limbs, eyeglasses, false eyes, dentures, braces, casts and crutches. Nothing in this paragraph shall be interpreted as requiring the provision of any prosthetic device in cases where such device would be of cosmetic effect only. However, prosthetic devices shall be provided where, in the opinion of the attending physician, they are necessary for the psychological well being of an inmate. Provided, where any inmate deliberately breaks or destroys any prosthetic device issued to him, the expense of replacement of such device shall be the sole responsibility of the inmate to whom it was issued.

[63] 6. Whenever mass inoculation programs are instituted by governmental agencies for the benefit of the general public, inmates at the Minnesota State Prison shall have the opportunity to participate in such programs.

[64] 7. Each inmate being released from the Minnesota State Prison, whether by discharge or otherwise, who has been incarcerated for a period of one year or longer, shall be given a physical examination if he makes a request for such examination within a reasonable time of his discharge. All inmates shall be informed of this right to an examination, and shall be given an adequate opportunity to request and receive such an examination. The scope and extent of physical examinations given pursuant to this paragraph shall be determined by the examining physician on the basis of the individual needs of the particular inmate being examined. The provisions of paragraphs 4a and 4b, supra, shall not be construed as regulating the type of physical examination given pursuant to this paragraph.

[65] 8. All inmates shall have the right to be examined, diagnosed and treated, at their personal expense, by a private physician. This examination, diagnosis or treatment shall normally occur at the medical facility located within the confines of the Minnesota State Prison and will be arranged and conducted pursuant to guidelines established by the full-time physician in charge of medical services at the Minnesota State Prison. It is recognized that there may be instances where it is in the best interest of the patient to permit examination, diagnosis or treatment to occur elsewhere. This will be done when the decision to do so is made by the full-time physician in charge of medical services at the Minnesota State Prison, subject to the Warden's approval and provided that the inmate shall bear all reasonable costs incurred in his transportation to and from the site of the examination, including transportation costs and the costs of having guards accompany the inmate to and from his examination. Nothing herein shall be interpreted to deprive any inmate from making separate arrangements for examination, diagnosis or treatment by requesting a medical parole.

[66] VI.B.