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Douglas County, medical provider sued over jail medical care

May 21, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An eastern Nebraska county and its medical provider are being sued over what complainants say is inadequate treatment of inmates at the county jail.

Negligence and malpractice claims have been filed against Douglas County and the jail’s Tennessee-based medical provider, Correct Care Solutions, the Omaha World-Herald reported . The contract company has come under scrutiny for inmate deaths and alleged poor treatment nationally, including lawsuits over six deaths in Colorado jails and some in Washington state.

The claims filed by Omaha attorneys Thomas White and Benjamin White outline more than a dozen Douglas County inmates allegedly denied proper treatment for their maladies, including a stroke, chlamydia and a broken hip.

Roger Cook, 55, had the most serious case. He lost 64 pounds during his time in jail, and only learned once he was released that he had advanced lung cancer.

Cook “repeatedly requested treatment for his symptoms and was repeatedly denied,” the lawsuit states.

Cook died 10 days after his release.

Jail officials are too quick to assume that inmates are faking illness or injury, the attorneys said.

“You can’t fake an X-ray,” White said. “And it would have been pretty obvious, even to a layperson, that Mr. Cook was very ill. He easily could have died in their custody.”

The Whites, who are cousins, allege Correct Care has financial incentives to give minimal medical care. Douglas County awards $5.7 million a year to Correct Care, which also contracts with jails in Lancaster, Sarpy and Dodge counties.

“The contract between Douglas County and CCS creates perverse incentives,” the lawsuits say. “CCS (Correct Care) makes more money under the contract when they refuse to provide inmates with necessary medical care.”

An attorney for Correct Care said each case should be evaluated on treatment decisions, not attorneys’ theories.

A Correct Care spokeswoman declined to comment further.

Mark Foxall, director of the Douglas County Jail, also declined to comment on the cases.

The Whites said nine of the lawsuits are at the claim stage but will be filed as lawsuits if the Douglas County Board denies payment of the claims. Four lawsuits have been filed so far.

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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