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Everett v. Wexford Medical Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 21, 2016

WEXFORD MEDICAL INC., et al. Defendants


William M. Nickerson, Senior United States District Judge.

Pending are Motions to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment filed by Defendant Wexford Medical Inc. ("Wexford") (ECF 13) and Warden Kathleen Green and Lt. Murphy ("Correctional Defendants") (ECF 16). Plaintiff opposes the motions (ECF 19, 20, 21, and 22). The Court finds a hearing in this matter unnecessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the reasons stated below, the Motions to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment, construed as Motions for Summary Judgment, shall be granted.

Also pending is Wexford's Motion to Seal (ECF 14) medical records filed in support of the Motion to Dismiss or for Summary Judgment. The motion to seal shall be granted in part; the Clerk will be directed to restrict access to medical records attached as Exhibit 1 to case participants.


Plaintiffs Allegations

Plaintiff Andre Everett is a prisoner committed to the custody of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services ("DPSCS") and confined at Eastern Correctional Institution ("ECI"). He states he suffers from congenital glaucoma and claims that on October 9, 2001, Dr. Doyle[1] put ear drops in his left eye, resulting in a total loss of vision in that eye. ECF 1 at p. 5. Plaintiff recalls that the drops used by Dr. Doyle caused such intense pain to his eye that he "jumped up from the chair." Id. When Plaintiff reported to the nurses what had occurred, he was immediately transported to "Robin Wood Hospital" in Washington County. Id. When he arrived Plaintiffs eye was evaluated and he was told there was nothing that could be done for the eye. He was then transported to the University of Maryland Hospital where he was seen by Dr. Lacove and Dr. Accall. Plaintiff states that he was informed by Lacove and Accall that ear drops had been put into his eye, that the damage was irreparable, and the only option was to have the eye removed. Id.

Plaintiff claims that since that event, he has requested to be seen by an eye specialist; to have glasses and sunglasses provided at the State's expense; and to be assigned to a single cell. He asserts his requests have been to no avail and that the "institution" has failed to give him a single cell or provide glasses or sunglasses. He states he requires a single cell because he has to view objects at a close range and medical staff has requested correctional staff to assign him to a single cell. Id. at pp. 5 - 6.

As relief, Plaintiff seeks one-million dollars in damages for the loss of his eye sight and for failure to provide him with "proper treatment." Id. at p. 3.

Wexford's Response

Wexford Health Sources, Inc. provided no contractual services with the State of Maryland prior to July 1, 2005. Beginning July 1, 2005, Wexford's contractual service was as the "utilization review management provider" which required review of requests for referrals of non-emergent specialty care and treatment, followed by appropriate action. ECF 13 at Ex. 2, pp. 1 - 2. On July 1, 2012, Wexford became the contractual, primary medical contractor for prisoners in Maryland's DPSCS. Prior to July 1, 2012, none of the healthcare providers who treated prisoners in Maryland were employed by Wexford. Id.

With regard to Plaintiffs care, Dr. Jason Clem provides a statement under oath supported by relevant medical records. ECF 13 at Ex. 3, see also Ex. 1. He states that Plaintiff has congenital end-stage glaucoma and has been legally blind in his left eye since 2001. Dr. Clem asserts that Plaintiff is seen on a regular basis as a chronic care patient by medical providers, opthalmologists, and optometrists. In that context, Plaintiff is prescribed eye drops including Pred Forte, Xalatan, Atropine, Brimonidine, Tartate, Cosopt, and Timoptic. Additionally, Plaintiff is provided with eye patches to protect his eyes and reduce irritation from light exposure. Id. at Ex. 3, pp. 1 - 2.

Dr. Clem explains that treatment for glaucoma is "typically focused on reducing intraocular pressure, " which is usually accomplished "through use of prescription eye drops." Id. at Ex. 3, p. 2. Surgery for end-stage glaucoma involves a high risk of complications, making conservative treatment the preferred approach. Id.

During the period of time that Wexford has been the contracted medical care provider, Plaintiff received the treatment outlined below.

On August 23, 2012, while housed at Maryland Correctional Institution Hagerstown ("MCIH"), Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Sadik Ali for his complaint of left eye pain. Dr. Ali noted that Plaintiffs left eye was bulging and that his condition was being followed by Dr. Summerfield, who is an opthalmologist. Dr. Ali prescribed Naprosyn for Plaintiffs pain and wrote an order for Plaintiff to be seen by Dr. Summerfield. In addition, Plaintiff was receiving Xalatan, Pred Forte, and Atroppine eye drops at that time.

The following day, Plaintiff was approved for a CT scan to be performed at Bon Secours Hospital to assist in the treatment of his glaucoma. On September 14, 2012, the day Plaintiff was to receive the CT scan, he refused to go on the medical trip and signed a release of responsibility. Id. at Ex. 3, p. 3. In the interim, Plaintiff was provided with an eye patch. Id.

Plaintiff complained again of left eye pain on March 7, 2013, and was seen by a registered nurse who referred him to a doctor for evaluation. Plaintiff was seen that day by Dr. Jonathan Thompson, who placed an order for an on-site consultation with an opthalmologist the following day. Id. at Ex. 3, pp. 3-4.

Plaintiff complained of eye pain in both eyes on May 8, 2013, and told the registered nurse who saw him he believed the eye drops prescribed to him were causing the pain. Plaintiff was again referred to optometry. Id. at Ex. 3, p. 4.

On October 25, 2013, Plaintiff was seen for an on-site ophthalmology evaluation which included dilation examination and intraocular pressure assessment. Dr. Green-Simms reported that the visual acuity in Plaintiffs right eye, without correction, was 20/140. Plaintiffs left eye had no light perception. The intraocular pressure on both of Plaintiff s eyes at that time was 8 and all other aspects of Plaintiffs eyes were also within normal limits. The only recommendation made by Dr. Green-Simms was that ...

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