Correctional Officer Allegedly Uses Excessive Force On Mentally Ill Patient

Jail Expert

This case involves a 24-year-old female schizophrenic inmate who died at a state mental hospital after being tackled by an orderly. Prior to her incarceration, she had been successfully treated with Risperdal for 2 years. Although it was acknowledged that the inmate was mentally ill, this medication was not administered to her during her incarceration. The inmate’s condition worsened over the course of her time at the mental hospital to the point that she attacked a supervisor. The inmate was immediately tackled by the orderly, who weighed over 100 lbs more than her, and given two injections. The patient passed away several hours later. An autopsy revealed that patient had 5 broken ribs and a punctured lung. An expert correctional psychiatrist was sought to determine if the use of force, in this case, was excessive.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your work in the correctional setting.
  • 2. What is your experience with violent or aggressive patients who have mental health issues?

Expert Witness Response E-051084

I am the medical director of a large city prison. Our total daily census is over 9,000 inmates and approximately 40% are receiving mental health services. My division manages the clinical care of patients with complex and severe mental health issues who require hospital-level care. I have previously served as the unit chief and associate clinical director of the forensic psychiatry division of a hospital and held clinical care responsibilities at a women’s prison. All of the aforementioned clinical care settings involve the management of aggressive and/or violent patients. I have extensive direct experience in ensuring staff and patient safety when physical engagement must occur, utilizing verbal de-escalation techniques,  administering and observation of intramuscular injections, and locked door seclusion or wrist/ankle restraint beds. I have served as an expert on numerous civil and criminal legal cases, some of which have included an opinion about questions raised with regard to possible failures in clinical care or malpractice.

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