115. The chest X-ray referred to in the preceding paragraph was unchanged from the June, 1973 X-ray referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 above.
116. On April 12, 1974, sputum again was collected from Samuel Bray for a tuberculosis smear, the result of which was negative. (D-18)
117. On May 13, 1974, two sputum specimens collected from Samuel Bray on February 10, 1974, were reported by the Pennsylvania State Laboratory to contain the tuberculosis germ on culture. (D-20)
118. The state laboratory never indicated that the Bray specimens were unsatisfactory for testing.
119. The May 13, 1974 report was received at the Lewisburg Penitentiary on May 16, 1974. (D-2, second page, line 14 of typing)
120. On May 16, 1974, Samuel Bray was hospitalized, isolated and treated for tuberculosis. (D-21)
121. On or about June 26, 1974, Samuel Bray was discharged from the Lewisburg Penitentiary Hospital, having undergone treatment for tuberculosis for some forty-one days. (D-21) (Undisputed)
At issue in this stage of the proceeding is whether any negligence attributable to the Defendant was the proximate cause of Ray's conversion from a "negative" to a "positive" tuberculin skin test, which lead to his treatment with the medication isoniazid (INH) that, in turn, triggered his allergic skin rash. Ray contends that the prison medical staff was negligent in its analysis of Bray's condition and in its handling of sputum cultures collected from Bray for testing at the state laboratory.
Some evidence with respect to the handling of sputum cultures and smears was adduced by Ray and his fellow Plaintiffs at the original trial of this case in September, 1976. The Defendant did not present testimony on the issue at the January 26, 1977 hearing. Nevertheless, the Plaintiffs' evidence, which consisted primarily of a former inmate assistant's recollection of procedures in the laboratory at Lewisburg, was general and not focused on what occurred in this case. As such, it did not suffice to carry Ray's burden of proof with respect to the Defendant's alleged negligence. It is troubling that there was no follow-up on the sputum specimens sent to the state laboratory even though more than twelve weeks had elapsed. However, the Court is of the view that the evidence presented does not suffice to demonstrate the negligence necessary to impose liability on the Defendant in this case. It is also noteworthy that the state laboratory, despite its slowness, never expressed dissatisfaction with the condition of the Bray specimens.
Ray also contends that the Lewisburg medical staff was guilty of malpractice for failing to treat Bray differently than it did during February, March, April, and the early part of May, 1974. The Court is of the view that the physicians at Lewisburg possessed and employed in the treatment of Bray the skill and knowledge possessed by doctors in the locality, giving due regard to the state of the profession in 1974. Likewise, prison personnel exercised the care and judgment of a reasonable man in like circumstances. Smith v. Yohe, 412 Pa. 94, 98-99, 194 A.2d 167 (1963); Donaldson v. Maffucci, 397 Pa. 548, 553-554, 156 A.2d 835 (1959). More than the usual number of X-rays were taken. Culture and sensitivity tests were performed by the staff at Lewisburg. Treatment appropriate to the "normal" X-ray results and the symptoms reported by Bray was accorded. A doctor, or even a pulmonary specialist, practicing in the Lewisburg area in 1974 would have treated Bray in essentially the same manner. Isolation, which was not dictated until receipt of the report from the state laboratory on May 16, was promptly effectuated by officials at Lewisburg.
Although it is highly probable that Ray's conversion from a "negative" to a "positive" skin test was caused by his exposure to Samuel Bray during March, April, and May, 1974, this result is not attributable to negligence on the part of the Defendant. Consequently, the Court will enter judgment in its favor.
III. Conclusions of Law.
In addition to the conclusions of law contained in the Opinion of October 19, 1976, the Court makes the following supplemental conclusions of law:
8. Plaintiff Charles Ray has failed to demonstrate that agents of the Defendant were negligent in the handling of sputum cultures collected from Samuel Bray on February 10, 1974 and sent to the state laboratory for analysis.
9. In their treatment of Samuel Bray during February, March, April, and May, 1974, the medical personnel at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg possessed and employed the skill and knowledge usually possessed by physicians in that locality, giving due regard to the state of the profession at that time.
10. In their treatment of Samuel Bray during February, March, April, and May, 1974, the medical personnel at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg exercised the care and judgment of a reasonable man in like circumstances.
11. Ray's allergic skin reaction to the medication INH was not the proximate result of negligence attributable to the Defendant.
An appropriate order will be entered.
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