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JLM23 Medical Care

JLM23 Medical Care

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Published by Peggy Plews

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Published by: Peggy Plews on Oct 02, 2013
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 A J
AILHOUSE
L
AWYER
S
M
ANUAL
 
Chapter 23:Your Right to Adequate MedicalCare
Columbia Human Rights Law ReviewNinth Edition 2011
 
 
L
EGAL
D
ISCLAIMER
 
 A Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual 
is written and updated by members of the
Columbia Human Rights Law Review 
. The law prohibits us from providing any legal advice to prisoners. This information is not intendedas legal advice or representation nor should you consider or rely upon it as such. Neither the
JLM 
nor anyinformation contained herein is intended to or shall constitute a contract between the
JLM 
and any reader,and the
JLM 
does not guarantee the accuracy of the information contained herein. Additionally, your use of the
JLM 
should not be construed as creating an attorney-client relationship with the
JLM 
staff or anyone atColumbia Law School. Finally, while we have attempted to provide information that is up-to-date and useful,because the law changes frequently, we cannot guarantee that all information is current.
 
CHAPTER 23Y
OUR
R
IGHT TO
A
DEQUATE
M
EDICAL
C
ARE
*
 
A.
 
Introduction
The U.S. Constitution requires prison officials to provide all state and federal prisoners and pretrialdetainees (people in jail waiting for trial) with adequate medical care.
1
If you think your right to medicalcare might have been violated, this Chapter will help you determine whether you have a legal claim forwhich you can get
relief 
.Part B of this Chapter explains your right to medical care under the federal Constitution and state law.Part C gives specific examples of health care categories for which you might have rights to medical care(diagnosed conditions, elective procedures, psychiatric care, exposure to second-hand smoke, and dentalcare). Part D is about special medical issues for women prisoners, including the right to basic medical andgynecological care, abortions, and accommodations for pregnant women. Part E talks about your right toreceive information about your medical treatment before being treated and your right to keep your medicalinformation confidential in prison. Part F explains the possible ways to seek relief in state and federal courtsif your rights have been violated.This Chapter will focus on federal law and some New York State laws. If you are a state prisoner, yourright to adequate medical care might also be protected by your state’s
statutes 
,
regulations 
, and
tort 
law.
2
 The New York Correction Law
3
and the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules, and Regulations of the State of New York explain the right to adequate medical care for New York State prisoners. If you are in prison inanother state, be sure to research the law in that state.The rights of prisoners with mental illnesses, infectious diseases, or disabilities present special issuesnot included in this Chapter. For more information about the rights of prisoners with mental healthconcerns, see Chapter 29 of the
JLM 
, “Special Issues for Prisoners with Mental Illness.” For moreinformation about the rights of prisoners with infectious diseases (and the rights of prisoners to avoidexposure to infectious diseases), see Chapter 26 of the
JLM 
, “Infectious Diseases: AIDS, Hepatitis, andTuberculosis in Prisons.” For more information on the rights of prisoners with disabilities, see Chapter 28 of the
JLM 
, “Rights of Prisoners with Disabilities.”It is important that you speak up about any medical issue that you might have. If you end up going tocourt to pursue your right to adequate medical care, a judge will ask for evidence that you tried to obtainmedical care in a variety of ways within the prison first. To prove a claim of 
exhaustion
(meaning that youtried administrative remedies before going to court) you must show that you properly pursued the grievanceprocedure of the prison system. Additionally, if you bring a claim of “deliberate indifference” (discussed inPart B(1)), recording any requests for care or complaints made to guards and medical care professionals canhelp lay the groundwork for this claim. Keeping a record will also allow you to show that the defendants(prisons or prison guards) were aware of your medical problems (the “subjective component,” discussed inPart B(1)(b)). The requirements for proving a defendant’s personal involvement are more complicated. Besure to make the prison officials around you aware of your health concerns as soon as they arise, anddocument any attempts you made through the proper channels to receive your desired medical care.
* This Chapter was revised by Priya Cariappa, based in part on previous versions by Erin LaFarge, Leah Threatte,Helen Respass, Pamela Addison, Susan Kraham, Gail Huggins, Erik Moulding-Johnson, Emmanuella Souffrant, andRichard F. Storrow. This Chapter was generally informed by John Boston’s very helpful “Overview of Prisoners’ Rights”(Updated for Second Circuit, Staff Attorneys Orientation, September 26, 2006). Special thanks to Milton Zelermyer of the Prisoners’ Rights Project of the Legal Aid Society for his helpful comments.1
.Se
Spicer v. Williamson, 191 N.C. 487, 490, 132 S.E. 291, 293 (1926) (“It is but just that the public be requiredto care for the prisoner, who cannot by reason of the deprivation of his liberty, care for himself.”).2.As a state prisoner, you may bring a suit under either state law or federal law. See Part F(1) of this Chapter fora discussion of your options.3.N.Y. Correct. Law § 45(3) (McKinney 2003 & Supp. 2009) (detailing the responsibilities of the Commission of Corrections, including the duty to “visit, inspect and appraise the management of correctional facilities with specificattention to matters such as safety, security, health of inmates, sanitary conditions” and other things that affect aprisoner’s well-being).

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