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CMS Nurse Injects 15 Delaware Prisoners with the Same Syringe

That Delaware prisoners have been subject to dreadful health care by the state’s medical contractor, Correctional Medical Services (CMS), is not a new revelation for readers of PLN. We previously published an exposé on the deaths, injuries and deliberate indifference suffered by Delaware prisoners as a result of CMS’s medical services, or lack thereof. [See: PLN, December 2005, pg 1].

Those with knowledge of the situation would think it could get no worse. Never say never. A lawsuit filed in federal court on April 3, 2008, on behalf of 15 Delaware prisoners, brings to mind prison medical experiments. Of course, whether CMS “Nurse Beth” was experimenting, made a mistake, was trying to save money because the prison infirmary was short on supplies, or was just being sadistic is unknown.

What is known is that she used the same needle on 15 prisoners to draw blood and inject medicine. In the end, her motivation and reasoning are irrelevant. “Legally, it doesn’t matter,” said attorney Joseph M. Bernstein, who along with attorney Bruce Hudson are representing the prisoners. “They were still entitled to a minimum level of care.”

The 15 prisoners allege that Nurse Beth used a syringe to test their blood, then stuck the same needle in a multi-use vial to draw insulin, injecting them afterwards. Under normal medical protocol, a lance is used to test a diabetic’s blood and a new syringe is used to administer insulin. All materials are to be disposed of without re-use.

The matter came to light after the prisoners received a “patient information sheet” that stated a nurse “may have” used the same needle on them. Those who received the memo were offered blood tests. Nurse Beth, according to the memo, denied the charges but resigned from her job.

Besides the prisoners named in the lawsuit, 46 others were treated with the same multi-use bottle. Anyone who received medication from that bottle was at risk of contracting hepatitis or HIV.

CMS, of course, is in denial. Company spokesman Ken Fields stated there was no evidence to support the allegations in the complaint. Even if it did happen, he said, it was unlikely any infections resulted. Yet at least six of the prisoners who received injections from the multi-use bottle have tested positive for hepatitis. The lawsuit is pending. See: Hutt v. Taylor, U.S.D.C. (D. Del.), Case No. 1:08-cv-00184-GMS.

This new revelation of ineptness on behalf of CMS personnel comes despite Delaware’s prison medical services having been under federal supervision since March 2006. As PLN recently reported, little improvement has occurred according to the latest two monitor reports. The Delaware Coalition for Prison Reform and Justice plans to take action.

“The coalition will again be calling for the removal of CMS and we will be doing whatever is necessary – demonstrations, protests, marches – to bring justice to an unjust system. Someone must be held accountable. We are talking about the lives of human beings,” said coalition co-founder Rev. Christopher Bullock. “We must decry this kind of behavior. It is not acceptable.”

Source: The News Journal

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Related legal case

Hutt v. Taylor