A whistleblower case filed by a doctor at the Augusta State Medical Prison system last year is leading to increased scrutiny of the healthcare provided to prisoners of the state system as well as the number of serious medical malpractice lawsuits filed against prison doctors in the last couple of years. Dr. Timothy Young filed a whistleblower lawsuit in November, claiming that officials with the Department of Corrections and Georgia Correctional HealthCare forced him out of his job because they suspected him of providing outside entities with information about the substandard medical conditions at Augusta State Medical Prison, the state’s flagship prison medical facility.
Young claims that he faced additional obstacles in his job before leaving at the end of the year after repeatedly raising issues of budgetary concern, including a lack of adequate technology to treat patients and excessive delays in approval to send prisoners to specialists. Young has also complained about the quality of physicians hired by the state as correctional facility doctors, and an investigation in 2014 found that over twenty percent of all Georgia prison doctors were hired despite receiving state disciplinary orders for substandard care and other medical transgressions. Young claims that this is perpetuating the problem, with doctors either ignoring serious problems with prison patients or being ignorant of their medical issues, costing the state more for treatment or in medical malpractice lawsuits later.
Two doctors in the Georgia prison system are currently settling more than $3 million in malpractice claims. Dr. Yvon Nazaire and Dr. Chiquita Fye are facing six lawsuits claiming medical malpractice against prison inmates in their care. One inmate died of complications to pneumonia while incarcerated. Another is in a vegetative state after Nazaire failed to recognize multiple health issues. A third lawsuit claims the doctor failed to treat a cut that became infected in an inmate, leading to the loss of her leg. The state corrections system has refused to comment on the ongoing whistleblower case, but Young claims that the lawsuits and scrutiny will only get worse if Georgia refuses to address the more systemic issues in their prison healthcare system.
While the aforementioned case was brought under the laws of the State of Georgia, there exist similar laws available to federal employees that offer protection. To be sure, under the federal Whistleblower Protection Act, any employee that alerts their employer to violations of rules, laws, or regulations is given protection from losing their job or facing other negative repercussions for their reporting. Common examples of reasons for whistleblowing include violations of state or federal law, mismanagement of funds, wasting funds, fraud, abuse of authority, safety violations, and harassment in the workplace. All employees should feel safe reporting violations in the workplace, and if your employer takes actions against you our office is here to hold them accountable for their wrongs.
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If you wish to file a whistleblower case against your employer or have further questions about whether filing a whistleblower case is right for your situation, talk to one of the experienced attorneys at The Vaughn Law Firm today. Call or contact our Decatur office to schedule a free consultation of your claims.