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Florida pays a high price for reprehensible prison healthcare

Ball-and-chain

The Florida Department of Corrections awarded a $1.2 billion contract to a Tennessee company to provide medical care for thousands of state prisoners, despite the company's track record of 660 malpractice suits in the past five years, the Miami Herald reported.

The company, Corizon, began work in August providing care at 41 correctional facilities.Then Wexford Health Sources received a $240 million contract in December to provide medical services to prisnoners in South Florida – despite 1,092 malpractice claims made by inmates from Jan. 1, 2008, through 2012. 

The article reports by way of example the case of a 24-year-old man incarcerated for misdemeanors, who was treated by Corizon for a bump caused by a spider bite on his left arm. After a month of ineffective treatment,the man first lost feeling in his back, then could no longer walk, and finally “felt his intestines escaping from his rectum.” Instead of taking him to the hospital, a Corizon nurse “pushed the intestines back in,” the records said.

Hospital doctors eventually treated the man for an abcess. In 2011, after finding Corizon solely responsible, a jury awarded him $1.2 million. 

“The Department of Corrections, headed by Secretary Michael D. Crews, hired Corizon and Wexford to lead Florida toward millions of dollars in savings promised by the massive privatization of inmate healthcare enacted by Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature, says the Herald. But “the corrections department never asked the corporations bidding for those lucrative jobs to disclose their litigation histories.” Read the story.

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