Civil Rights; Cruel and unusual punishment; deliberate indifference
A prison doctor cannot simply defer to a dentist all decisions regarding a prisoner’s care.
“The district court concluded that Dr. Lochard was entitled to defer all dental decisions to Dr. Mitchell. This belief that Dr. Lochard could meet his constitutional obligation to Smego simply by ignoring his untreated dental concerns is mistaken. Smego had told Dr. Lochard both that he was in pain and that he was unable to get necessary treatment from Dr. Mitchell. But unlike Dr. Bednarz, who investigated the problem by contacting Dr. Mitchell, there is no evidence in the record that Dr. Lochard ever contacted Dr. Mitchell, Dr. Bednarz, or Smego’s therapist to see why Smego could not get dental care. That Dr. Lochard is not himself a dentist is beside the point; even non-medical personnel cannot stand by and ignore a detainee’s complaints of serious medical issues. E.g., Berry, 604 F.3d at 441. Moreover, Dr. Lochard did not defer entirely to Dr. Mitchell. He prescribed Motrin despite the availability of substitutes and knowledge of Smego’s allergy. A physician is deliberately indifferent when he persists in an ineffective treatment — and prescribing painkillers that cause a patient to experience pain certainly meets this standard — for a serious condition. See Gonzales v. Feinerman, 663 F.3d 311, 314 (7th Cir. 2011); Arnett, 658 F.3d at 754.”
Affirmed in part, and Vacated in part.
11-2897 Smego v. Mitchell
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, Baker, J., Hamilton, J.