Stopping an Inmate’s Prescription Medication Prior to Surgery May Constitute Deliberate Indifference

George Hardy, an inmate, had a history of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes and was prescribed Plavix to prevent the formation of blood clots. Following surgery on his salivary glands, the medical staff discovered blood clots in his right leg and that he had gangrene, which led to a leg amputation. Hardy alleged that stopping his medication prior to the surgery caused the blood clots and he filed a § 1983 claim against the Georgia Department of Corrections (“GDC”), the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (“BOR”) and individual medical staff defendants. Hardy v. Georgia Department of Corrections, 2019 WL 4670758 (S.D. Ga. 2019).

The court held that Eleventh Amendment immunity prohibits the § 1983 claims against the GDC, BOR, and the individual defendants in their official capacities. The court also held that Hardy failed to state a claim for deliberate indifference against the warden, doctor and nurse at the prison where he was incarcerated because Hardy was immediately transferred to the hospital when the doctor detected the blood clots and there was no subjective knowledge of risk because the doctor had told him the medical prison would handle any concerns regarding his medication.

With regard to the medical prison personnel, the court held the individual capacity claims survived dismissal because it was plausible the medical personnel drew the inference that Hardy was at serious risk of forming blood clots since Hardy claims they were aware of his history, of his prescription, that he was no longer taking the medication, and that if he did not resume anti-clotting medication, he was at risk for blood clots. With regard to the wardens at the medical prison, the court found that Hardy alleged that they deferred to the medical staff knowing the medical staff was acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical need.

With regard to supervisory liability against the doctors at the medical prison, the court found that Hardy stated claims for supervisory liability because he alleged sufficient facts to infer that the doctors each personally participated in his treatment and were aware of his medical and prescription history. Because Hardy did not allege the wardens personally participated, he had to show a causal connection between the wardens’ actions and the constitutional violation in order to state a supervisory liability claim against them. Since Hardy alleged that the wardens had supervisory authority over the medical personnel and knew all of the same facts the medical staff did regarding his medical history, prescription, continued complaints, and the time lapsed, the court held a fact finder could conclude that the wardens were aware that the medical personnel's conduct violated the Constitution and the wardens failed to proscribe that conduct.

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