A prisoner of Jackson County Jail in Indiana filed a lawsuit against Dr. Al-Shami, claiming he received unreasonable medical care. More specifically, the plaintiff alleged that Dr. Al-Shami failed to monitor his vital signs or ensure that his vital signs were monitored on a regular basis. The prisoner based his claims under Indiana common law and 42 U.S.C. section 1983, stating that the Dr. had violated his Fourteenth Amendment right.
The plaintiff, Kenneth Collins, was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DUI). An apparently heavy drinker, Collins was known to consume approximately thirty beers every two days. Collins kept on his person a bottle of Librium, a chemical used to treat feelings of anxiety, in order to combat feelings of alcohol withdrawal. Upon arrest, the police booking Collins telephoned Dr. Al-Shami about the bottle of Librium. Dr. Al-Shami approved the use and advised that he take the medication as directed on the bottle.
A couple of days after being admitted to the jail, Collins began to have symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. The correct dosage of Librium was given in addition to B1 vitamins. Collins’ condition improved until later in the day when the symptoms returned. A nurse measured Collins’ vitals and telephoned Dr. Al-Shami to report her findings. D. Al-Shami advised that Collins should continue to be given the Librium while also ordering that he continue to be monitored for signs of withdrawal. Two days later, Collins’ conditioned worsened to the point of delusion and he was taken to the hospital. Collins’ vital signs were measured and recorded as being normal and he was returned to the jail. Over the next ten days, Dr. Al-Shami checked in on Collins and while he was still suffering from symptoms of withdrawal, the Dr. felt that because the symptoms had not changed for the worse, he could stand to be monitored by jail personnel.
However, Collins’ condition did worsen and Dr. Al-Shami advised that he be taken to the emergency room. Hospital staff determined that he was hypothermic, suffering from dehydration and had low blood pressure. Collins was treated for several days and was place in a medically-induced coma.
At the trial court level, a motion for summary judgment was made by Dr. Al-Shami and his co-defendant (his employer) which was successful on both the state and constitutional claims.
On appeal, the court affirmed based upon finding that no evidence was presented that proved Dr. Al-Shami’s orders to jail medical personnel were insufficient. In fact, Collins’ medical expert stated on the record that Dr. Al-Shami’s conduct was reasonable and in accordance with the applicable standard of care.
Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician’s neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
About the Author