Inmates and lawsuits!

  1. i was just checking to see if anyone else is constantly being threatened with a lawsuit by an inmate if they don't get the medication they want? i am baffled that one offender we had several years ago actually has a lawyer and is attempting to sue because he didn't get the medication he wanted when he wanted it? this particular inmate is saying that because we didn't give him vicodin and percocet etc, he fell and broke his nose because of being in extreme pain! i don't know about you all, but there has been times in my life where i have contacted a lawyer about a serious issue and was told that there was nothing they could do for me. but yet some of these offenders are getting lawyers to represent them in cases that are frivilous! now i have an inmate that is threatening to sue me because i won't get him all these narcotics, benzos etc. he says he has a court order that says he can have them but i have never seen this court order. i know that many, many offenders come in with horrible medical conditions and are in extreme pain etc but there is nothing as a nurse that i can do for them. the physician knows their conditions and he is the only one that can prescribe medications or treatments for their needs. we do not use benzos in our prison except for a taper and narcotics are strictly used for inmates in the icu where they are monitored. i value my license and i try to do what i can to help these guys (to a point) but i am tired of being threatened with a lawsuit everytime a guy can't get what he wants! i do refer them to the medical doctor when they complain of this and that and i do all the protocol stuff, but as a nurse, there is not much i can do other than refer to the medical doctor or psychiatrist. some of the biggest requests these guys ask for are seroquel, ativan, xanax, clonazepam, ultram and any other opiod they can get. i was just wondering if any of you have to go through this in your correctional setting? thanks.
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   Sheri257
    I haven't been sued yet personally but, I'm sure it's going to happen because we do get sued a lot in California. We're actually under federal court receivership.

    Why are the inmates successful with some lawsuits? Because they've got some liberal judges out of San Francisco who love inmates. However, these judges (who are Jimmy Carter appointees) are very old and I think things will change once some of the Republican appointees take over these cases.

    These inmate lawyers love to sue because the state has deep pockets and ... the state's lawyers don't always do a good job of defending these cases so it can be a gold mine for some of these law firms.

    As far as narcotics ... we get these demands a lot but, the inmate better have cancer, a broken jaw or some really serious condition to justify getting narcotics. Otherwise, Tylenol and Motrin is all they get.

    I do worry about lawsuits and do as much as I can to CYA ... BUT, at the same time, when an inmate starts threatening me ... I don't hestitate to write them up.

    I've sent two of them to the hole ... one who did threaten me with a lawsuit and, another one who previously won a fairly large judgement against the state over medical care (not mine).

    I give them good care but, if they misbehave despite my efforts then ... I am not going to tolerate it. I'd rather just explain it to the judge if it comes to that, rather than tolerate abuse from inmates because ... once you tolerate abuse from inmates ... it never ends.

    I have my own liability insurance so, if the state's lawyers screw up then, I'll just defend my own case if necessary. I've been to court before for non-nursing related cases and most judges, at least in my experience, are pretty reasonable so ... if an inmate wants to take me to court .... so be it.

    Last edit by Sheri257 on Oct 6, '07
  4. by   texascowgirl
    i have always felt that correctional health was the lowest litigation threat of all specialties.
    my standard answer to the few inmates who would make threats to me, would be "well, i hope your lawyer is as good as the one who got ya in here"........lol
  5. by   nancykday
    Worked corrections for 10 years. Not a week goes by that I'm not threated with either a lawsuit, or being reported to the SBON. I usually tell the i/m 's to make sure they spell my name right.
    They are all talk and usally no action. I have wriiten the up for theatening staff, document their complaints, and still tell them No. I have yet to be sued and/or reported to the board.
    I don't worry about their threats, I just do my job.
  6. by   JailRN
    I hear that all the time. Here, in California, we're lawsuit happy.
    I just follow the policies of the institution.
    I can't give what I don't stock.
    I can't give what the MD hasn't ordered.
    I just smile sweetly and tell them, "you're preaching to the choir".
    I document well.

    Then, I let the city lawyers worry about it.
    So far, so good
  7. by   uraqt2
    I have been served with papers once in 7 yrs. Fortunately, I had policies on my side and documentation. I get threats frequently and I simply tell them 1: spell my name correct 2: will see you on the stand and 3: threats don't change the care I will give. It's imperative that nurses give adequate medical care and to use nursing judgement. This doesn't mean that just cause an inmate makes demands and threats that it's the best medical care. I often remind the inmates that if they wanted to practice medicine then they should have gone into the field and not become a criminal.
  8. by   nancykday
    :roll

    Quote from uraqt2
    I have been served with papers once in 7 yrs. Fortunately, I had policies on my side and documentation. I get threats frequently and I simply tell them 1: spell my name correct 2: will see you on the stand and 3: threats don't change the care I will give. It's imperative that nurses give adequate medical care and to use nursing judgement. This doesn't mean that just cause an inmate makes demands and threats that it's the best medical care. I often remind the inmates that if they wanted to practice medicine then they should have gone into the field and not become a criminal.
  9. by   buckrubRN
    Quote from docpsychrn42
    i was just checking to see if anyone else is constantly being threatened with a lawsuit by an inmate if they don't get the medication they want? i am baffled that one offender we had several years ago actually has a lawyer and is attempting to sue because he didn't get the medication he wanted when he wanted it? this particular inmate is saying that because we didn't give him vicodin and percocet etc, he fell and broke his nose because of being in extreme pain! i don't know about you all, but there has been times in my life where i have contacted a lawyer about a serious issue and was told that there was nothing they could do for me. but yet some of these offenders are getting lawyers to represent them in cases that are frivilous! now i have an inmate that is threatening to sue me because i won't get him all these narcotics, benzos etc. he says he has a court order that says he can have them but i have never seen this court order. i know that many, many offenders come in with horrible medical conditions and are in extreme pain etc but there is nothing as a nurse that i can do for them. the physician knows their conditions and he is the only one that can prescribe medications or treatments for their needs. we do not use benzos in our prison except for a taper and narcotics are strictly used for inmates in the icu where they are monitored. i value my license and i try to do what i can to help these guys (to a point) but i am tired of being threatened with a lawsuit everytime a guy can't get what he wants! i do refer them to the medical doctor when they complain of this and that and i do all the protocol stuff, but as a nurse, there is not much i can do other than refer to the medical doctor or psychiatrist. some of the biggest requests these guys ask for are seroquel, ativan, xanax, clonazepam, ultram and any other opiod they can get. i was just wondering if any of you have to go through this in your correctional setting? thanks.

    inmate lawsuits are an almost constant threat here in wisconsin. i personally have been named in a suit twice and have only been in corrections for 5 years!! i have always prided myself in good nursing care and have always been a patient advocate but when you are working with people who have spent most of their lives trying to get something for nothing it is difficult to be the nurse you want to be.
    i don't believe that the general public is aware of what level of care that these inmates recieve nor do i believe do their lawyers. many of these men have children who can't get any healthcare services at all but they feel they deserve the best of everthing whether they need it or not!!! the word no will often set them off on their threats of lawsuits.
    iv'e been nursing for 16 years and have never had so much as a complaint and i stand by my reputation but it is very hard if you don't have a thick skin. i just try to remember that my job is not my life and remind them to spell my name right.!!!
  10. by   military spouse
    I've been threatened with a lawsuit a few times for really stupid stuff. I just remind them how to spell my name and I give them the names of everybody higher than me so they can do an ARP! I always say this with a HUGE smile!!!
  11. by   VegRN
    Quote from uraqt2
    I have been served with papers once in 7 yrs. Fortunately, I had policies on my side and documentation. I get threats frequently and I simply tell them 1: spell my name correct 2: will see you on the stand and 3: threats don't change the care I will give. It's imperative that nurses give adequate medical care and to use nursing judgement. This doesn't mean that just cause an inmate makes demands and threats that it's the best medical care. I often remind the inmates that if they wanted to practice medicine then they should have gone into the field and not become a criminal.

    Hahahahahha! This is toooooo funny :chuckle
  12. by   hisblueskies
    I've only been working 2 weeks at a prison and I have already been named in a formal complaint by a prisoner. Thankfully I had no direct contact with the prisoner - I was a witness to the incident. From what I hear this is part of the job.
  13. by   Jessy_RN
    Threatened constantly but have yet to 'see' a lawsuit. The same inmates are the ones putting in grievances constantly for silly things.

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