Former Minnesota Prisoner’s Inadequate Health Care Suit Settled for $275,000
by Matt Clarke
In July 2011, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC) settled a lawsuit brought by a former state prisoner over allegedly inadequate medical attention after he suffered a severe reaction to a medication given to him while he was in prison. The lawsuit continues against Corizon Health.
On June 4, 2007, Teddy A. Korf arrived at the Minnesota Correctional Facility -St. Cloud. At that time, he was taking medications for drug withdrawal induced depression and had no history of bipolar disorder or mania. Nonetheless, a nurse practitioner employed by CMS changed Korf’s prescriptions to include Tegretol, a medication used to treat bipolar disorder and mania which is known to have serious side effects, including the development of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome and systemic toxic epidermal necrosis syndrome (TENS) in which the skin and mucous membranes blister and slough off.
On June 28, 2007, Korf was seen at the prison’s medical unit complaining of itchy, watery, reddened eyes and clear nasal discharge. Over the course of the next two days, he complained of advancing symptoms which included rashes, swelling of the face, lips and throat and red, puffy face. Eventually, he reported difficulty breathing.
Korf’s complains were recognized as being consistent with an allergic reaction, but none of the medical personnel who saw him bothered to check his medication as a possible cause of the problems. Instead, they treated him with general anti-allergy medications such as Benadryl, Zantac and Prednisone. Korf’s complaints of worsening symptoms and requests to be transferred to a hospital were brushed off as hysteria. Finally, Korf was discovered unresponsive in his cell on July 1, 2007. He was transferred to St. Cloud Hospital.
The hospital’s emergency room doctors immediately suspected Stevens - Johnson syndrome or TENS related to Tegretol use, but were unable to confirm that Korf was actually taking Tegretol because his medical records were not sent to the hospital and he was unresponsive. Korf was stabilized then transferred to the Hennepin County Medical Center’s burn unit where the diagnosis was confirmed.
Korf’s airways were so blocked with sloughed off mucous membrane that he had to be intubated and put on a mechanical ventilator. He was in the burn unit for 30 days while his skin sloughed off causing, among other injuries, severe corneal abrasions in both eyes. He is now totally blind in one eye and has little sight in the other. Korf, a former truck driver, is also in constant pain and permanently disabled. He requires a personal care attendant for most daily activities.
After his release from prison, Korf underwent a stem cell transplant and two cornea transplants. They were unsuccessful. His medical bill exceeds $300,000.
Korf filed a federal civil rights lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the actions of the DOC and its employees and CMS and its employees caused his injuries. He claimed violations of his constitutional rights and state torts. The DOC settled its portion of the suit for $275,000. The suit against Corizon continues.
See: Korf v. Roy, U.S.D.C.-D.Minn., Case No. 0:11-cv-01484-ADM-FLN.
Additional source: www.startribune.com
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Related legal case
Korf v. Roy
|Cite||U.S.D.C.-D.Minn., Case No. 0:11-cv-01484-ADM-FLN|