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Abell v. Baucom

United States District Court, D. Maryland

September 8, 2014

MARTIN C. MR. ABELL, #311-293, Plaintiff,


WILLIAM D. QUARLES, JR., District Judge.

On July 17, 2013, Mr. Martin C. Abell, a Maryland Division of Correction ("DOC") prisoner confined at Western Correctional Institution ("WCI"), filed a self-represented civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983, [2] seeking money damages and injunctive relief mandating he receive open heart surgery, eye surgery, a walking cane, and front handcuff placement. Specifically, Mr. Abell claims that Correctional Defendant Dr. Sharon Baucom, "acted in concert with [other Medical Defendants] to prolong and deprive [him] of open heart surgery...." and knew that he had cataracts, but "fail[ed] to take appropriate action." ECF No. 1 at 7-8, 14-15. He further claims that employees of Wexford Health Sources, Inc. ("Wexford") (hereinafter, the "Medical Defendants") failed to provide open heart surgery to remove arterial blockage, denied him cataract surgery, and failed to process orders for a cane and front cuffing. Id. Mr. Abell also claims generally that Defendant Ms. Dawn Hawk, R.N., failed to provide medication. Id. at 10-12.

Mr. Abell fails to state when these alleged constitutional violations occurred. The Court concurs with the Medical Defendants that, given the date Mr. Abell filed his Complaint and the location of the named Medical Defendants, the Complaint concerns the medical care he received while incarcerated at North Branch Correctional Institution ("NBCI"). See generally ECF No.17-1. Wexford became the DOC's contractual health care provider on July 1, 2012, [3] and Mr. Abell was transferred from NBCI on August 9, 2013. See ECF 15-2 at 3.

Pending are Dr. Baucom's and the Medical Defendants' unopposed[4] motions to dismiss, or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.[5] See ECF Nos. 15, 17.[6] No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014).

I. Background[7]

Mr. Abell, who is in his early sixties, alleges that he has not received adequate cardiac and eye care. ECF No. 1 at 5-8. He suffers from coronary artery disease, hypertension, uncontrolled Type II diabetes mellitus with neurologic manifestations, hyperlipidemia, and psoriasis. ECF Nos. 17-4, 17-5 at 3. His uncontroverted health care history as provided by Wexford employees between July 1, 2012, and the filing of the dispositive motions, follows.

On July 24, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Defendant Dr. Colin Ottey at the prison chronic care clinic, where he reported that his chest pain had improved and he had lost significant weight. See ECF No. 17-4 at 2. Dr. Ottey's cardiovascular exam showed regular rhythm, no murmurs, gallops, or rubs, and a normal heart rate. Id. at 2-4.

On July 29, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Dr. Ottey regarding non-compliance with his medication. Id. at 6. Mr. Abell indicated that he has not been taking his Levemir for diabetes and reported nausea, hot flashes, diaphoresis, chest pain, shortness of breath, and rhinorrheas. Id . Mr. Abell was in no apparent distress when examined, and his heart showed a regular rhythm without murmurs, gallops, or rubs. Id. at 6-8.

On August 1, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Dr. Ottey for his diabetes, where he complained of blurred vision, increased fatigue, dyspnea (shortness of breath), weight loss, burning extremities, and heartburn. Id. at 9. Mr. Abell was in no apparent distress, however; his cardiovascular exam was normal, and his medications were continued. Id. at 9-12.

On August 17, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Dr. Ottey for complaints of left-sided chest pain that radiated to the neck and left arm. Id. at 13. Mr. Abell was dizzy, short of breath, and nauseous. Id. He stated that he had taken five aspirin and two nitroglycerin tablets. Id. Dr. Ottey ordered an electrocardiogram ("EKG") and troponin test and sent Mr. Abell to the Western Maryland Health System Hospital Emergency Room. Id. at 13-15. The EKG and troponin test showed negative results. Id. at 16. Mr. Abell was admitted to the hospital for observation. Id. at 19-54. A chest x-ray revealed elevation of the left diaphragm and his heart was at the upper limits of normal to minimally enlarged. Id. at 31. Previous coronary bypass surgical changes were noted. Id. at 33. Mr. Abell was discharged the next day after an acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) was ruled out and he was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease ("GERD") and stable angina. Id. at 44, 50-53. Mr. Abell was to continue his current medications and add Omeprazole for his stomach, Pravastatin for his cholesterol, and Imdur for chest pain. Id. at 44-49. It was recommended that a stress test be performed. Id. at 44.

Mr. Abell was admitted to the prison infirmary for observation and reported no chest pain or shortness of breath. Id. at 55. He was seen by Dr. Ottey on August 19, 2012, and discharged back to his unit. Id. at 56-60.

On August 25, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Dr. Ottey for follow-up, where he reported the chest pain had improved but that he had episodes of fluttering, shortness of breath, and dizziness if he stood up quickly. Id. at 62. Mr. Abell's medications were continued and a consult request for a stress test was submitted. Id. The stress test was approved on August 28, 2012. Id. at 62-67.

On September 6, 2012, Mr. Abell asked Defendant Ms. Monica Metheny, R.N., if he could go off his 2400 calorie diet. Id. at 68. Refusal forms were to be sent to him. Id. at 68-69. On September 8, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Dr. Ottey for complaints of left and center chest pain and dizziness. Id. at 70. Mr. Abell was admitted to the infirmary, an EKG and troponin test were ordered, and his 2400 calorie diet was reordered. Id. at 72. The EKG was within normal limits. Id. at 73. During nursing rounds, Mr. Abell indicated his chest pain was due to mace residue on the wall of his unit. Id. at 74.

Mr. Abell was seen by Dr. Ottey on September 9, 2012. Id. at 76. It was noted that the troponin test was negative and a stress test was pending. Id. A cardiology consult was submitted. Id. at 80. Mr. Abell was discharged by Dr. Ottey. Id. at 76. On September 20, 2012, Mr. Abell's chart was updated to reflect the February 9, 2012 approval for use of a cane for ambulation and front hand-cuffing for one year. Id. at 88-89.

On September 24, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen at Bon Secours Hospital ("BSH") by Dr. Athol Morgan for a cardiology evaluation. Id. at 82. Mr. Abell reported that in 2000, he received coronary artery by-pass surgery at Washington Hospital Center after an initial attempt at minimally invasive surgery via a left thoracotomy failed. Id. Mr. Abell denied ankle edema swelling, indicated he had been a heavy smoker, and that his mother had coronary artery disease. Id. Dr. Morgan noted Mr. Abell's poor dentition and recommended an echocardiogram that day to be followed by a stress test. Id. at 83. Dr. Morgan noted that Mr. Abell got along reasonably well with on-site medical management and should continue with it, but deferred to DOC physicians for Mr. Abell's cholesterol medication. Id. Dr. Morgan also recommended a follow up after non-invasive testing was completed. Id. at 84.

On October 7, 2012, Dr. Ottey updated Mr. Abell's chart and submitted a consult request for a stress test and cardiac evaluation. Id. at 90-92. On October 10, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Dr. Ottey to review the cardiology consult and was told the request for a stress test was approved. Id. at 96. Mr. Abell had no complaints of chest pain and was in no apparent distress. Id. Dr. Ottey prescribed Zocor (a different statin) and Bactrim DS (an antibiotic). Id. at 96-98.

On October 26, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Defendant Mr. Greg Flury, P.A., to discuss the status of the stress test that had been requested, but not yet scheduled. Id. at 99. Mr. Abell stated he had no exacerbation of chest pain or other pulmonary symptoms in the last three weeks. Id. at 101.

On November 2, 2012, Mr. Abell went to BSH for a stress test. Id. at 104. On November 11, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Dr. Ottey to discuss the stress test results, which revealed a large scar in the area of the LAD distribution with mild depression of global function.[8] Id. at 105. Mr. Abell was prescribed Prilosec to treat his GERD symptoms. Id. at 107. On November 13, 2012, Mr. Abell's cardiology consult was put on hold pending further evaluation. Id. at 108.

On November 15, 2012, Mr. Abell's left eye cataract was evaluated by Dr. Summerfield, an ophthalmologist. Id. at 109. Mr. Abell had 20/70 vision in that eye. Id.

On November 27, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Ms. Autumn Durst, R.N., with complaints of chest pain. Id. at 110. Mr. Abell claimed he had been having dull, burning pain and arm numbness for approximately eight hours and had taken two nitroglycerin pills without relief. Id. The EKG was abnormal, but Mr. Abell's heart rate was regular and his troponin test was negative. Id. at 111. Mr. Abell was given more nitroglycerin but his pain persisted. Id. Dr. Ottey ordered Mr. Abell admitted to the infirmary. Id. Upon admission, Mr. Abell complained of intermittent left arm pain for three days, nausea without vomiting, and occasional shortness of breath. Id. at 113. He was evaluated by Dr. Renato Espina later that morning. Id. at 114. He had no cough or audible wheeze, his respirations were regular, he had no chest pain or palpitations, and his heart rhythm was regular, Id. The EKG revealed an old anterior wall myocardial infarction. Id. Mr. Abell was prescribed Isordil. Id. at 115. During skilled care rounds in the infirmary, Mr. Abell reported crushing chest pain and shortness of breath. Id. at 116. On November 28, 2012, Mr. Abell told Dr. Espina his pain had improved, and he was later discharged. Id. at 119-121.

On November 29, 2012, Mr. Abell was seen by Ms. Hawk for complaints of chest pain. Id. at 122. His speech was loud and clear and he spoke for long periods of time without shortness of breath. Id. Dr. Ottey ordered Mr. Abell admitted to the prison infirmary for 23 hours evaluation. Id. On November 30, 2012, Mr. Abell arrived at the infirmary by wheelchair. Id. at 124. He denied respiratory complaints or chest pain, and described only heaviness; no swelling was noted. Id. Mr. Abell complained that every time he got his insulin and went to eat, he experienced chest pain. Id. at 125. He denied eating that night and later vomited. Id. During skilled care rounds, Mr. Abell stated he had not had a bowel movement in two weeks, but that was normal for him, as he only had one bowel movement per month. Id. at ...

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