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7th Circuit: Staff should have told inmate to stop taking aspirin

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A District Court erred in granting summary judgment for the government on an inmate’s suit claiming his complications from a surgery were the result of the prison medical staff disregarding instructions he stop taking blood thinners prior to his surgery.

Maurice Gipson was taking aspirin to manage pain caused by a spinal disc disease. It was later determined that he needed surgery. The health company that helps the prison staff arrange for medical treatments outside of the prison notified the prison medical staff in writing that Gipson should stop all blood thinners five days before surgery.

The staff didn’t tell Gipson to stop taking the aspirin and he had serious complications from surgery because of internal bleeding. Evidence showed that the bleeding was caused by using aspirin, and it’s likely that the complications would have been avoided or lessened if he had stopped taking the drug at least five days before surgery.

Gipson sued under the Federal Tort Claims Act, claiming that because the prison’s medical staff didn’t advise him to stop using aspirin before the surgery, he suffered complications.

In Maurice Gipson v. United States of America, No. 09-2756, the 7th Circuit concluded that the Indiana rule governs this case, which requires a plaintiff in a medical malpractice claim to present expert evidence of the applicable standard of medical care unless the defendant’s conduct is “understandable without extensive technical input” or “so obviously substandard that one need not possess medical expertise to recognized the breach.”

The District Court granted summary judgment for the government because Gipson didn’t submit a medical expert’s opinion stating that by disregarding the directive, the prison’s medical staff violated the applicable standard of care.

Expert testimony would be necessary if there was a dispute as to when blood thinners should be stopped before surgery, but it’s conceded that five days was the minimum, wrote Judge Richard Posner. The only issue bearing on the standard of care is whether the prison’s medical staff was required to tell Gipson that aspirin is a blood thinner and that he must stop taking it at least five days before the surgery to try to prevent serious complications.

“It doesn’t require medical knowledge to answer ‘yes’ — indisputably, the staff should have told him,” wrote Judge Posner. “The ‘yes’ is so obvious in this case that Gipson should have been able to move successfully for partial summary judgment, establishing a breach of the standard of care and leaving only issues of causation and damages for further proceedings.”

Gipson presented expert evidence of causation in that the surgeon who operated opined that it was Gipson’s consumption of aspirin at least five days before the surgery that caused the complications. That opinion is in a medical report that is admissible. But there is conflicting evidence as to whether Gipson ran out of aspirin more than five days before his operation, as the government argued. The judges remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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