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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. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  2. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  3. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  4. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  5. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

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