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  • njbart46 njbart46 Oct 1, 2004 7:37 PM Flag

    california prison update Part 1


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    Prisons Fail to Heal Healthcare; Disclosures of doctors' spotty backgrounds point to a state system still in crisis, a lawmaker declares. A hearing is scheduled for today.; [HOME EDITION]
    Jenifer Warren. Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sep 29, 2004. pg. A.1
    Full Text (1414 words)
    (Copyright (c) 2004 Los Angeles Times)
    Nearly three years after California prison officials vowed to make major improvements in inmates' medical care, the state is facing new criticism that many of its doctors are incompetent, leading to costly lawsuits and, at times, deaths.

    Documents obtained by The Times show that one in five prison doctors has been disciplined by the California Medical Board or sued for malpractice -- a rate almost five times that found statewide.

    Some physicians working behind bars have histories of criminal convictions, cocaine or alcohol addiction and a loss of privileges at hospitals, records show.

    One doctor, now working at the state prison in Susanville, was treated for a psychotic disorder that prompted him to lead police on a chase through the streets of Fresno. He was ordered by the medical board to complete five years' probation after a psychiatrist declared: "He cannot practice medicine safely."

    The disclosures are to be discussed by two state senators at a Capitol hearing today. Questions are also likely to surface about the June death of a Bay Area inmate whose family believes he was a victim of inept care.

    Anthony Shumake, 41, died six days after a dentist under contract with a Vacaville prison extracted a wisdom tooth. An infection created an abscess and swelling in the neck, making it difficult for Shumake to breathe. A San Joaquin County coroner's report said he died because the abscess constricted his airway.

    Shumake's family wants to know why he was driven to a hospital in Manteca -- a 75-mile ambulance ride -- rather than to a facility in Vacaville, where he was serving a 12-year term for spousal abuse and stalking. Corrections officials will not comment until an internal investigation is completed.

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