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Question:

From Virginia, USA:

I am contacting you on behalf of my diabetic brother, who is currently in a private correctional facility. My father and I are desperately trying to get him proper medical care for his diabetes. The treatment he is receiving is extremely inadequate and the symptoms from his illness are life-threatening at this time. When he tells them he's sick, he is stuck in Medical Isolation, where there is no one to check on him for hours. Last week they placed in Isolation after an insulin injection and he pounded on the door until he became unconscious. He was dangerously close to a coma. When he is in the general population, he can get help from the guards or trustees. At least there are people around that would notice if he went into a coma.

We have exhausted every avenue to obtain help for him, both legally and medically. My brother and I were raised to not accept charity unless you have no other recourse. He lives with my parents who provide him food, clothing and shelter. After countless interviews, it became obvious that no one would hire him due to his illness. He has been unemployed for long time,due to his condition, and we don't have the money to pay a lawyer even if we can find one to take his case. There seems to be a catch 22 concerning this. I have been told there is a federal law that prohibits assistance from pro bono lawyers as long as he is in this facility. With 11 months left on his sentence, I fear he will never recover from the damage been done to him by poor medical treatment. He has a severe problem with one of his legs, and I fear he will lose his leg soon if he can't get proper treatment.

It seems as though there is no person, organization or commission that oversees medical treatment of inmates. How can this be? This sounds like something that could only happen in some third world country. Is our only option to wait until he dies or looses his leg so we can file a suit against this facility? People who mistreat animals can be held accountable, but not a private institution like this.

I have contacted the Superintendent on several occasions and he flat out denies any mistreatment. And the Chairman of the company gives me a "concerned" response but refers me back to the Superintendent who lies to me. I've contacted numerous lawyers and doctors and no one can seem to help. So the circle goes on and on and my brother's illness worsens with each passing day. We're desperate to get him some relief from this situation. If there is any one who can help us, please let us know.

Answer:

You should review the American Diabetes Association position paper entitled "Management of Diabetes in Correctional Institutions." You can read it at the following web page: http://www.diabetes.org/DiabetesCare/supplement/s40.htm

If you haven't already contacted your local ADA office, I would certainly start there. They are advocates for everyone with diabetes.

JSH

Additional comments from Lois Schmidt Finney, diabetes dietitian:

Has the Medical Director of the facility been contacted?

LSF

[Editor's comment: Whether or not you can get help will also depend upon taking a very reasonable and calm approach. Claiming that "The treatment he is receiving is extremely inadequate and the symptoms from his illness are life-threatening at this time" is unlikely to help: perhaps it might better be phrased "The treatment he is receiving seems inadequate and the symptoms from his illness could become life-threatening". And be sure to be able to document exactly what is "inadequate" and why you think it could become life-threatening.

Also, it doesn't help to call someone in a position of authority a liar (even if deep down inside you feel that they are!). Honey catches more flies than vinegar, and (to mix metaphors) you'll have to butter these folks up if you ever expect to get anywhere in helping your brother. WWQ]

DTQ-20000208184808
Original posting 18 Apr 2000
Posted to Daily Care

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:10
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