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. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.