Families of inmates who died at the Tulsa County jail have joined in on a civil rights lawsuit. They're suing the sheriff and the jail's healthcare provider over what they call a "who cares" attitude for inmates with medical and mental health needs.
The lawsuit involves four people. Three of them died at the jail and one nearly died. It's one of several lawsuits involving 10 total inmates, who are suing for cruel and unusual punishment.
This suit, filed on May 31, is completely separate from the civil rights lawsuit filed against the sheriff's office on behalf of Elliot Williams, who died in Tulsa County jail in 2011.
The civil rights lawsuit says three inmates needlessly died at the Tulsa County jail from inadequate medical care.
It details the death of Lisa Salgado, who was taken to the hospital for a cardiac work-up, then cleared to be booked into jail. The lawsuit says she notified the medical staff of her prescriptions and her coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, pancreatitis, and alcohol abuse. She immediately complained of chest and stomach pain, but according to the lawsuit, received little to no treatment. When a nurse checked on her, he found Salgado unresponsive, no pulse and not breathing.
The lawsuit says she had been dead for four to six hours and rigor mortis had set in, however the suit claims the defendants lied on the medical records to show Salgado died after the ambulance picked her up, to avoid having the jail death count go up.
The lawsuit makes the same allegations of falsified medical records, involving a woman who died from a heart attack at the jail in February of this year.
In February 2012, Gregory Brown was booked in and asked to see a doctor, but had to wait four days. During that time, his blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate all plummeted and he vomited all night, the suit claims. The doctor's diagnosis was kidney stones.
Brown was never sent to the hospital and eventually developed a fever, swollen abdomen, black stomach fluid and dark urine, according to the lawsuit. When he was finally taken to the hospital, it was too late. He died from bacterial contamination, after holes opened up in his bowel, the suit claims.
The Tulsa County Sheriff's office serves 32,000 inmates a year.
It says the death rate should be higher than one or two deaths a year, considering the poor physical state many of the inmates are already in before they're booked. It says sometimes inmates come in with conditions out of the jail's control.
We called and emailed the attorneys for Correctional Healthcare Management and still haven't heard back.