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Winslow v. Prison Health Services

February 12, 2010

F. SCOTT WINSLOW, PLAINTIFF
v.
PRISON HEALTH SERVICES, INC., STANLEY STANISH, M.D., RENATO DIAZ, M.D., AND JENNIFER PORTA, P.A., J. RAMBO DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sylvia H. Rambo United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Before the court is Defendants', Prison Health Services, Inc. ("PHS"), Stanley Stanish, M.D., Renato Diaz, M.D., and Jennifer Porta, P.A., motion for summary judgment. The motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for disposition.

I. Background

A. Facts*fn1

This case arises out of Plaintiff's allegations that Defendants violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment due to their treatment of Plaintiff's hernia while incarcerated at State Correctional Institute-Retreat ("SCI-Retreat"). (Defs.' Statement of Material Facts ("SMF") ¶¶ 2, 10.) The facts leading up to, and the treatment of, Plaintiff's hernia are as follows.

On August 19, 2007, while working at the prison, Plaintiff felt a "pop" and later noticed a lump in his groin. (SMF ¶ 11.) One week later, on August 27, 2007, Plaintiff reported his injury to medical staff and said he had been self medicating with ibuprofen from the commissary, but that he could no longer get this medication because he had been transferred to the Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU"). (SMF ¶¶ 15-16.) He was told on this date that the following day someone from the medical department would be able to see him. (SMF ¶ 15.)

On August, 28, 2007, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Porta, a physician's assistant. (SMF ¶ 16.) Porta examined Plaintiff's groin and saw no discoloration; however, Plaintiff reported that it was tender to the touch. (SMF ¶ 17.) Porta indicated in her report that Plaintiff appeared to have a hernia in the left inguinal area,*fn2 but that it appeared to be reducible and that Motrin had been helping up until Plaintiff's transfer to the RHU. (Defs.' Br. in Supp. of Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. 50, Ex. C.) Porta prescribed Motrin for Plaintiff and told him to sign-up for sick call if the symptoms worsened. (SMF ¶ 17.) The Motrin prescription was to end on September 11, 2007. In addition, Porta instructed Plaintiff "not to participate in sports, weight lifting, intensive labor, pushing, pulling, or lifting anything above 15 pounds." (SMF ¶ 18.)

On September 7, 2007, an SCI- Retreat nurse evaluated Plaintiff before he was formerly placed in the RHU. (SMF ¶ 19.) The nurse noted that there were no medical conditions that would make Plaintiff ineligible for RHU placement. (Id.) There was no mention in the nurse's notes of Plaintiff voicing any complaints about pain or a hernia.

On January 14, 2008, Plaintiff was examined by Defendant Diaz for complications relating to his asthma. (SMF ¶ 20.) No mention was made in Dr. Diaz's notes of any complaint of pain or suffering relating to Plaintiff's hernia.

On January 18, 2008, Plaintiff was again examined by Porta. (SMF ¶ 21.) He was upset and said he had been seen by a doctor twice and by another physician's assistant and that they had told him he would be getting a surgical consult for his hernia. (Id.) Plaintiff did not, and has not, provided the names or dates of these medical consultations, and there is nothing in the medical records to support Plaintiff's contention. Porta examined Plaintiff again and found that she could not determine whether the hernia had moved into Plaintiff's scrotum but that it was soft and reducible. Plaintiff told Porta that he had no blood in his stools and that he was not experiencing difficulty with bowel movements. He was also able to move without difficulty when entering and exiting the medical department. Porta believed that Plaintiff's condition was stable and scheduled him to visit with Defendant Stanish. She told Plaintiff to return to the medical department as needed. (Id.)

Plaintiff did not return to the medical department until January 28, 2008, when he was scheduled to meet with Dr. Stanish. (SMF ¶ 22.) When Dr. Stanish examined Plaintiff he found a slightly enlarged area in the groin region. He was able to insert his finger into the area of the hernia with minimal discomfort to Plaintiff. Dr. Stanish found that the hernia appeared to be reducible and there were no signs that the testicular region was involved. (Id.) Dr. Stanish concluded that there was no need for surgery because there was no strangulation,*fn3 and because it appeared that the hernia had already reduced in size and was further reducible. (SMF ¶ 23.) Dr. Stanish told Plaintiff that he was not a candidate for surgery and that any such surgery would be an elective procedure which, outside of prison, only some insurance carriers would cover. (Id.) Plaintiff continued to insist that he wanted his hernia repaired surgically. (Id.) Dr. Stanish believed that a hernia belt was the proper treatment, and, after informing Plaintiff of this, ordered the belt. (SMF ¶¶ 24-25.) In addition to ordering the hernia belt, Dr. Stanish prescribed Motrin for fourteen days and ordered that Plaintiff be placed on restricted activity. (SMF ¶ 25.) The next day, January 29, 2008, Plaintiff returned to the medical department to receive his hernia belt. However, Plaintiff felt it was too big and another belt had to be ordered. (SMF ¶ 26.)

On February 11, 2008, Defendant Diaz examined Plaintiff. (SMF ¶ 27.) Dr. Diaz believed that the hernia was reducible. He noted that both inguinal rings were fine and that the area around the hernia and the testicles were unremarkable. (Id.) Dr. Diaz prescribed Plaintiff Motrin and ordered him a scrotal support.*fn4 (SMF ¶ 28.)

On February 19, 2008, Plaintiff returned to the medical department complaining of discomfort in his left groin area and difficulty with bowel movements. (SMF ΒΆ 29.) He requested Motrin and Metamucil, both of which were provided. (Id.) Porta examined him and determined that he was able to move without pain and an examination of his testicles revealed no abnormalities. There was no blood in Plaintiff's stool and he was not experiencing abdominal pain. No hernia was protruding at this ...


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