Case: A Wisconsin inmate sued the prison’s medical staff for failing to diagnose and treat his hepatitis C infection. Among the defendants was the physician who ordered the lab tests revealing the extremely high level of liver enzymes in the inmate’s blood. So, the fact that the physician didn’t tell the inmate that he had hepatitis C and get him some treatment was negligence, the lawsuit alleged. But the physician had a legitimate explanation for not following up: He had left the prison and taken another job by the time the test results came back. While not satisfying the inmate, the physician’s explanation satisfied the Wisconsin federal court which tossed the claim against him without a trial.
Significance: As the court explained, the mere fact that the physician ordered tests ordered tests isn’t enough to prove that he disregarded the inmate’s serious medical needs or acted negligently. The silver lining for the inmate was that dismissal of the case against the ordering physician didn’t get the treating physician who subsequently took over the case off the hook [Jackson v. Lorenz, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36289, 2021 WL 765022].