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California Jail Doctor Faces Medical Board Discipline for Negligent Care

by Monte McCoin

According to an October 2017 news report, an investigation by the Medical Board of California found that Dr. Michelle A. Thomas was negligent in the care of five prisoners at the Fresno County Jail in 2014 and 2015. Thomas could face a reprimand, probation or revocation of her medical license if the accusations are upheld.

The doctor was found to have removed prisoner Daniel Trebas’ wheelchair without determining whether he could use a walker or other mobility aid. The wheelchair was returned after video surveillance showed he could not walk. Court records indicate that Trebas has filed a lawsuit for damages and injuries caused by the removal of his wheelchair.

In another case, Dr. Thomas allegedly provided negligent care to a prisoner identified as K.C., whose gastric feeding tube split and spilled his stomach contents. Thomas told a nurse that the tube should be taped shut, but the prisoner was later sent to a hospital by an on-call physician. The Medical Board said Thomas’ order was an “extreme departure from the standard of care.”

Dr. Thomas was also accused of negligence in the treatment of three pregnant prisoners at the jail. All of the women had health conditions that led to their pregnancies being considered “high-risk.” Thomas was found to have failed to properly treat or refer the high-risk pregnancies or keep proper records regarding their care.

In addition to gross negligence and repeated negligent acts, the Medical Board said Thomas was subject to disciplinary action for keeping inadequate and inaccurate medical records. A final decision on the charges has not yet been entered by the Board. 



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