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Wyoming and CMS Settle Suit Over Diabetic Prisoner’s Loss of Foot

Wyoming and CMS Settle Suit Over Diabetic Prisoner's Loss of Foot

by Matthew T. Clarke

In June 2006, CMS, the State of Wyoming and a prison doctor settled a lawsuit involving a prisoner who had to have his lower right leg amputated following dismally inadequate medical care.

Salvatore Lucido is a diabetic former state prisoner who was incarcerated at the Wyoming State Penitentiary (WSP). In January 2003 he developed foot blisters because WSP staff had refused to issue him medical footwear. The blisters developed into infected, open-wound ulcers the following month. This is a very dangerous condition for diabetics, who typically have poor circulation in their feet. The prison physician, Dr. Coyle, gave Lucido inadequate care for the infections, as Lucido was required to provide his own wound care, was given inadequate amounts of antibiotics, and experienced week-long delays for trips to the hospital to debride the dead, bacteria-infected skin.

Further, the self-wound care that Lucido was told to perform -- including wet compresses and wrapping the foot in an elastic bandage -- most likely exacerbated his condition by creating favorable conditions for bacterial growth. As a result of this medical maltreatment, the infection grew and eventually spread to the bones in Lucido?s foot.

WSP and its medical provider, Correctional Medical Services (CMS), even tried to delay the amputation surgery, which eventually became necessary, until after Lucido's release date. However, when Lucido's foot literally exploded from the raging infection he was finally sent to the local hospital, Memorial Hospital of Carbon County. At Memorial he was diagnosed with gangrene but, instead of amputating, Dr. Sridharan, the surgeon who treated Lucido, merely removed the dead flesh.

Lucido went back and forth between WSP and Memorial several times for removal of dead tissue, eventually exposing the bones of his foot.

Finally his release date arrived and Lucido was sent to Memorial on self-pay. There he received no further surgery and his infection was not stabilized; instead, Memorial had the prison's chaplain drive him to a homeless shelter in Casper.

The homeless shelter refused to admit him due to his obvious serious medical needs. They took him to Wyoming Medical Center where he was admitted, underwent an emergency amputation of his leg below the knee, and was kept and medicated until his infection was stabilized two weeks later.

Lucido filed suit in federal district court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and pendent state law. The suit alleged that CMS, Dr. Coyle and other WSP medical personnel, Wyoming DOC officials, WSP employees, Memorial and Dr. Sridharan were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, committed medical negligence and violated the EMTALA, 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd.

On June 9, 13 and 21, 2006, the case was settled with CMS for an undisclosed amount, with Dr. Coyle for an undisclosed amount, and with the State of Wyoming for $50,000, respectively. Lucido's attorney, John N. Robinson of Casper, said of the confidential settlement with CMS and Dr. Coyle, "We were very pleased with the result." See: Lucido v. Correctional Medical Services, USDC WY, Case No. 1:04-cv-00132-ABJ.

Additional Sources: Billings Gazette, Associated Press

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Related legal case

Lucido v. Correctional Medical Services