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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. It appears the police and prosecutors are allowed to change the rules halfway through the game to suit themselves. I am surprised that the congress has not yet eliminated the right to a trial in cases involving any type of forensic evidence. That would suit their foolish law and order police state views. I say we eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes committed by members of congress and other government employees. Of course they would never do that. They are all corrupt cowards!!!

  2. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  3. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  4. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  5. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

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