In a series of cases outlined in court records and internal documents, Minnesota prison inmates in distress have been denied medical care with dangerous and sometimes deadly results, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Since 2000, at least nine prisoners have died after medical care was denied or delayed by corrections staff, and another 21 have suffered serious or critical injury.
The state Department of Corrections and its staff have been held liable for nearly $1.8 million in wrongful death and negligence cases. In addition, at least six nurses have been disciplined for countermanding doctors' orders, giving false statements, or denying emergency care, and one surrendered her license to the state Board of Nursing after its investigators found she denied care to inmates in eight separate cases. Last month, a jury awarded an inmate more than $1 million after finding negligence on the part of a contract physician at a prison. Jane Eskelson, who recently retired after more than 20 years as a corrections officer and witnessed the death of one inmate, said the medical staff was often overworked.