This week, a Chicago man filed a lawsuit claiming that he suffered health complications while he was an inmate at an Illinois jail because the facility had refused to give him his HIV medications for an entire week.
Fortunately, most patients in Illinois do not have to worry about their doctors refusing to write a prescription for a necessary medication or pharmacies refusing to sell customers their medications. However, this lawsuit does highlight some important concerns regarding patient safety andprescription medication errors.
For example, the former inmate’s lawsuit shows how harmful it can be to any patient’s health when medical professionals fail to properly diagnose and treat their patients for serious health conditions in a timely manner. The lawsuit is also a reminder of how important it is that physicians always prescribe the correct medications for patients and that pharmacists fill these prescriptions appropriately.
According to the lawsuit, the incident occurred after the man had been transferred from one county jail to another county jail in 2010. When he was transferred, officials at the new facility refused to give the man his HIV medication that he had been used to taking. The man had been taking a three-pill combination treatment, and when he was suddenly forced to stop taking his drugs, he suffered further health problems.
While unable to take his medication for a week, the man suffered several health complications including vomiting, weight loss, swollen lymph nodes and emotional distress. The lawsuit states that the man was worried that he would die from not being able to take his medications, especially since doctors clearly advise HIV patients to take their medications without fail. When HIV patients forget to take their medications, they could develop a resistance to their drugs.
The man is hoping that his lawsuit will raise awareness of the need for jails to have proper policies in place so that inmates can receive their necessary and possibly life-saving medications without interruption.
Source: Chicago Tribune, “Lawsuit: Illinois jail denied Chicago man HIV drugs,” June 18, 2012