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Family of HIV-Positive Man Who Died in Delaware Prison Sues Prison Health Care Provider, Alleging Inadequate Treatment

August 30, 2005

The family of an HIV-positive man who died while serving a six-month sentence at Gander Hill prison in Wilmington, Del., is suing First Correctional Medical, the prison system's health care provider, and two of its doctors over allegations that they did not take adequate steps to diagnose or treat the inmate's disease, the AP/WBOC reports. The lawsuit alleges that prison health care providers ignored 37-year-old Louis Chance's health complaints in September 2003 and should have ordered a CT scan or an MRI to help diagnose and treat his cryptococcal meningitis, according to attorney Ken Richmond, who is representing Chance's family. Chance became comatose and was admitted to a Wilmington hospital, where he died of the opportunistic infection. Family members said they were unaware that Chance was HIV-positive and said he might not have known his status either. "It's our belief that the death of Chance resulted from cost-containment policies," Richmond said. The inmate's relatives are among several critics of First Correctional and the Delaware Department of Correction who think health care providers are putting financial concerns before medical care. More than 40 lawsuits have been filed against Arizona-based First Correctional since 2002, when it was awarded a six-year contract to provide health care for Delaware's inmates. First Correctional pulled out of the contract in June after DOC officials requested an inspection of the provider by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care. DOC Commissioner Stan Taylor said the department's medical review committee and NCCHC identified "some issues" with First Correctional. Officials from First Correctional declined to comment (Chase, AP/WBOC, 8/29).

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