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Ex-prisoner sues federal government for medical malpractice

When someone breaks the law and receives a prison sentence as a punishment, they lose many of the rights and privileges that the rest of the country enjoys. However, even inmates have the right to receive medical treatment in a humane and timely manner. Wisconsin residents may have heard of a recently filed medical malpractice suit that claims that one inmate was subjected to a series of delays that led to the eventual amputation of his penis.

The man's medical troubles in prison began with a narrowing of the urethra, for which he received treatment in Jan. 2009. A biopsy of the tissue in that area showed no signs of trouble. When the man complained of a painful lesion on his penis a short time after, he was told that it was a herpes sore. In reality, however, the man was suffering from squamous cell carcinoma. His continued efforts to get medical attention were met with delays and cancellation of appointments.

By the time that a correct diagnosis was made, there was no option available other than the surgical amputation of the majority of the man's penis. He was released from prison in 2010, but continues to have medical problems associated with the procedure. Although he owns a small business, his ability to perform physical tasks has been severely limited due to complications from surgery and his need for multiple medications for pain management.

He is suing the federal government for medical malpractice. A judge in the case has already refused to allow individual prison employees to be named in the suit, and will soon consider other challenges that the defense is presenting in the case. Should the man prevail, he could be awarded considerable damages associated with his medical condition and continued need for treatment. As this case moves forward, the outcome could send a clear message regarding the government's obligation to provide proper medical care to individuals who are incarcerated, in Wisconsin or elsewhere.

Source: NewsObserver.com, "Former Butner inmate suing feds for malpractice over amputated genitalia," Jay Price, Oct. 27, 2012

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