Pendleton prisoners sue Indiana over cases of tuberculosis

Dozens of inmates at Pendleton Correctional Facility in Madison County are suing the state over cases of tuberculosis at the prison.

An inmate at the facility was moved into isolation at another prison in June 2014 after testing positive for active tuberculosis, and state officials said he received a standard four-drug treatment. State Department of Health spokesman Ken Severson said an outbreak believed to have started with the inmate resulted in three active tuberculosis cases and 75 latent infections among Pendleton inmates.

The prisoners’ class-action lawsuit was filed in May against the Indiana Department of Correction and seeks unspecified damages, The Herald Bulletin of Anderson reported. The lawsuit accuses prison officials of failing to properly screen, diagnosis and treat the initial patient, who as a result was allowed to remain in the general population at the facility longer.

The prisoners in the lawsuit claim about 400 inmates were exposed to bacteria causing tuberculosis.

The legal response filed on the Department of Correction’s behalf denies prisoners’ allegations. Pendleton Correctional Facility Superintendent Dushan Zatecky and Department of Correction spokesman Douglas S. Garrison declined to comment on the tuberculosis cases or the lawsuit.

“We are very constrained in what we can say once a matter has entered litigation,” Garrison said.

Zatecky provided the newspaper with a statement from Corizon Health Inc., which is the State Department of Health’s contracted health care provider. The St. Louis-based company’s statement says it has “an active screening program and response protocol for a number of transmittable infections,” including tuberculosis.

“When a potential TB exposure was identified at the Pendleton facility, we worked closely with the Department of Health to monitor and follow those protocols as necessary,” the company’s statement said.

The State Department of Health hasn’t gotten any reports of tuberculosis at the Pendleton facility since June 2014, Severson said.

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