Untrained Prison Nurses Cause Death Of Pregnant Inmate

Jail ExpertThis case involves a woman that was incarcerated for one week at a correctional facility for women. She was pregnant at the time and the jail was aware of this. On the last day of her incarceration, the woman complained of birth pains and thought she was going into labor. She complained throughout the day, but her complaints were ignored by the staff. The woman ended up birthing her baby on the toilet in the jail. Both mother and child died in birth. The medical staff at the jail consisted of two licensed practical nurses. When asked why they did not do more, the nurses replied that they were only LPNs and were not trained to handle this kind of patient. It was later discovered that neither of the nurses on staff had ever worked with pregnant patients or in women’s health at all, and had no relevant experience for the job. Both of the LPNs had been provided to the jail by a private staffing company. It was alleged that given the fact that this was a women’s prison, the staffing company should have provided the jail with staff that were capable of dealing with this type of patient population.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. How do you determine if someone is a legitimate fit for a medical position?
  • 2. Are there any circumstances in which you would staff a facility with nurses that have no relevant experience?

Expert Witness Response E-131290

I have worked in correctional health care for 20 years. During that time, I have trained hundreds of nurses on the specific needs of the inmate population. I have worked as a staff nurse and advanced to a corporate position. I feel very knowledgeable in the areas of concern in this case. When looking to place a nurse in a position, I look at prior experience, areas of interest, and any advanced training that was completed. There are many areas that are taught during a nursing program but general knowledge in most areas can be expected. I have completed summaries on many correctional healthcare cases, including the abilities/skills of nursing staff. The emergent care of a patient in labor is taught in all nursing (RN/LPN) programs. That being said, if a nurse is going to work in a correctional women’s facility, there is a responsibility by the agency to confirm that the nurse is skilled and capable of working in this environment. LPN’s are taught to call a supervisor if there are any questions or concerns. There should have been, at least, an RN for them to call with questions.

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