Hepatitis C Infection Lawsuit | Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Burnett v. Wexford Health Services

This is the 54th lawsuit filed in 2016. It is the first lawsuit filed by a prisoner against Wexford Health and its agents and the warden of a federal prison in Cumberland, Maryland. It was filed on February 4, 2016.

Unlike most lawsuits filed by prisoners, this one comes with a Certificate of Merit and a report by a doctor alleging a breach of the standard of care.

Summary of Plaintiff's Allegations

Plaintiff is a prisoner at North Branch Correctional Institution (NBCI). NBCI is a maximum security prison operated by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, located in Allegany County, Maryland.

Plaintiff files his complaint in United States District Court District of Maryland. He alleges that the court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Section 1331 and 1343(A)(3).

NBCI has a policy requiring all prisoners to write a request to the medical staff in order to use a pair of nail clippers. Tier officers are in charge of the security and distribution of nail clippers. According to the Plaintiff, they are required under federal guidelines to follow certain procedures to clean the nail clippers, preventing the spread of infectious diseases.

Plaintiff accidentally cuts into his toe while using a pair of clippers. He uses an alcohol pad to wipe and clean the cut before covering it with a band-aid. He alleges that security footage will show that no officer cleaned or disinfected the nail clippers before he used them.

About a month later, Plaintiff submits a request to the medical staff for a blood test and a urine test. Plaintiff tests positive for Hepatitis C and his kidneys are in stage three chronic disease. Blood tests dating back every four months show that Plaintiff had no prior kidney problems before cutting himself with the clippers.

Plaintiff alleges that the prison failed to properly implement its clipper policy. He claims that the tier officers were not properly trained as to the legal requirements of properly cleaning and disinfecting the nail clippers. For several years the nail clippers were allegedly placed into the same bowl which all of the prisoners had to reach into. As a result of the contamination, Plaintiff developed Hepatitis C and lost kidney function after cutting himself with the clippers.

The medical negligence claim is that the doctors failed to notify the Plaintiff of the injury and treat him for the kidney problems he had before they reached Stage 3 chronic kidney disease.

  • United States District Court of District of Maryland
  • Wexford Health Services
  • Warden
  • Medical Director
  • Doctor
  • Director of Nursing
  • Director of Infectious Disease
  • Infectious Disease Department Worker
  • Failure to implement clipper policy
  • Failure to train officers on clipper policy
  • Prescribed ibuprofen in excessive quantities causing kidney damage
Additional Comments
  • Somewhat incredibly, the kidney disease malpractice case might be a better claim that the clippers case. There are too many different ways to develop Hep C and his expert did not speak to causation.
  • The lawsuit filed by this prisoner looks better than some we have seen filed by Maryland attorneys
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