Can a Person Uder Areest Sue for Being Denied Medical Care?
The answer will depend on all of the facts and circumstances involved, such as whether he made the officers aware of the injury anmd whether a delay in treatment worsened the condition. The Eighth Amendment guarantees that "cruel and unusual punishment [not be] inflicted." The Eighth Amendment has been used to challenge the medical care in prisons. The Eighth Amendment bars excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishment. It applies only to prisoners who have been convicted and sentenced. However, detainees can make similar claims under the 14th Amendment.
In some cases, it is possible to bring a lawsuit for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In cases involving an inmate's medical needs, the need must be, objectively, sufficiently serious, as typically proven by evidence from medical professionals. Deliberate indifference to serious medical needs is required to prove a violation of the Eighth Amendment.
In Estelle v. Gamble, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes "unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain," whether the indifference is displayed by prison doctors in their response to the prisoner's need or by prison guards who deny or delay access to treatment or interfere with the treatment. The Court, however, ruled that "every claim by a prisoner that he has not received adequate medical treatment" does not mean a violation of the Eighth Amendment. An "inadvertent failure to provide adequate medical care" is not "an unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain" or "repugnant to the conscience of mankind.… Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a prisoner." Only deliberate indifference "can offend 'evolving standards of decency' in violation of the Eighth Amendment." Because Gamble saw medical personnel seventeen times over three months, the court did not find this a violation of the Eighth Amendment. "A medical decision not to order an X ray or like measures does not represent cruel and unusual punishment."
Prisoners are entitled to adequate medical treatment. A prison official's refusal to provide medical care to a seriously ill inmate violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment (Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 97 S. Ct. 285, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251 ). In cases where the treatment is neither cruelly withheld nor intentionally mismanaged but is inept, prisoners can sue physicians in state courts for medical malpractice.
The key will be determining the meaning of "adequate" treatment. Prison officials are obligated under the Eighth Amendment to provide prisoners with adequate medical care. This principle applies regardless of whether the medical care is provided by governmental employees or by private medical staff under contract with the government. In order to prevail on a constitutional claim of inadequate medical care, prisoners must show that prison officials treated them with "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs."
A prison official demonstrates "deliberate indifference" if he or she recklessly disregards a substantial risk of harm to the prisoner. This is a higher standard than negligence, and requires that the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk of harm to the prisoner. The prison official does not, however, need to know of a specific risk from a specific source.
Proof of prison officials' knowledge of a substantial risk to a prisoner's health can be proven by circumstantial evidence. For example, it may be inferred from "the very fact that the risk was obvious." This circumstantial proof may be shown by deterioration in prisoners' health, such as obvious conditions like sharp weight loss. A prison official cannot "escape liability if the evidence showed that he merely refused to verify underlying facts that he strongly suspected to be true, or declined to confirm inferences of risk that he strongly suspected to exist."
Officials' knowledge can also be proven by direct evidence. For example, prisoners might present sick call requests, medical records, complaints, formal grievances or other records reflecting: the nature of the complaint, the date of the complaint, the individuals to whom the complaint was made, the treatment provided, the adequacy of the treatment, the date the treatment was provided, the medical staff seen, the nature of follow-up care ordered and whether it was carried out, the effects of any delay in obtaining treatment, and any additional information relating to the complaint.
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