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Turner v. Wexford Health Sources, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

February 22, 2018



          Michael J. Reagan United States District Judge

         I. Introduction

         Darryl Shannon (Plaintiff) filed a pro se complaint in this Court under 42 U.S.C. 1983, alleging that various correctional officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, including hand and wrist pain and an abnormal BUN/CREAT ratio. The case is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction, seeking to compel medical care for his hand/wrist pain and low BUN/CREAT ratio (Doc. 2). Defendants moved to strike Plaintiff's motion; Plaintiff opposed that motion (Docs. 47 and 53). Defendants were directed to supplement their brief to further explain the BUN/CREAT ratio and Plaintiff's current condition. Defendants provided a supplemental affidavit (Doc. 79). Plaintiff filed a response to that affidavit (Doc. 83). Based on the following, the Court denies Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction.

         II. Summary of Key Allegations and Facts

         Plaintiff is incarcerated at Centralia Correctional Center. He sues for violation of his federally-secured constitutional rights, seeking declarative relief, injunctive relief, and monetary damages. As narrowed by the Court's threshold review order (Doc. 8, which allowed four counts to proceed against six named Defendants), Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have been deliberately indifferent to his hand and wrist pain and to the results of a blood test showing that Plaintiff had a low BUN/CREAT ratio (described further below, this is a test relating to kidney function). Plaintiff alleges that he injured his hands and wrists when he fell on June 27, 2016 (Doc. 8, p. 2). He was seen by Dr. Garcia on July 27, 2016 (Id.). At that time, Plaintiff complained of numbness, tingling, aching, and swelling in his hands and wrists (Id.). Dr. Garcia diagnosed Plaintiff with inflammation. He prescribed Prednisone (a steroid) and Robaxin (a muscle relaxer) (Id.). Plaintiff had a follow-up with Garcia on October 26, 2016, in which Plaintiff again complained of pain, and his prescriptions were renewed (Id.). Plaintiff sought an additional follow-up on November 2, 2016 as his prescriptions, by then, had run out. Told that he would have to pay a $5 co-pay for the visit, Plaintiff refused the appointment (Doc. 8, p. 2).

         On November 10, 2016, Plaintiff began experiencing dizziness, tingling, skin crawling, and headaches, as well as pain in his hands and wrists (Doc. 8, p. 2). He requested pain medication, but the nurse on duty refused, instead placing him on a list to see the doctor (Id.). Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Santos on November 12, 2016 and was told his symptoms might be a side effect of the prednisone, or possibly an allergy (Id.). Dr. Santos ordered a blood test but declined to order pain medication or an x-ray (Id.).

         Plaintiff saw Dr. Santos again on November 17, 2016, to review Plaintiff's blood test (Doc. 8, p. 3). Plaintiff indicated he was still experiencing problems with his hands and asked for an x-ray (Id.). Santos denied the request for an x-ray. On November 25, 2016, Plaintiff indicated that he began hearing crunching sounds in his hands and experienced pain between his thumb and index finger, as well as cramping while writing and brushing his teeth (Id.). He also continued to experience back pain, neck pain, and dizziness (Id.).

         On December 21, 2016, Plaintiff received his medical records and noted that his BUN/CREAT ratio was out of range (Doc. 8, p. 3; Doc. 2, p. 8). Plaintiff believed that the ratio was dangerously low, because his godmother (a nurse) told his mother so (Id. at p. 3-4). Plaintiff filed a grievance about his ratio and requested a blood pressure check. He was told in response to his grievance that the ratio, although “out of range, ” was not at “panic level” (Id. at p. 4; Doc. 1-1, p. 15).

         On December 22, 2016, Plaintiff was referred to the doctor for continued pain in his arms and the crunching sound in his wrists (Doc. 8, p. 4). Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Santos and complained about symptoms in his right hand (Id.). Santos ordered an x-ray and Ibuprofen (Id.). Plaintiff experienced dizziness and passed out on January 15, 2017 (Id. at p. 5). Plaintiff also was experiencing frequent urination, pain in his kidneys, and shaking (Id.).

         He saw Dr. Santos, who informed Plaintiff that his right ear was full of wax, which had caused the fainting (Id.). Plaintiff was provided with ear drops to remove the wax (Id. at p. 5). Plaintiff experienced dizziness again on January 18, 2017, and he asked to speak to the doctor (Id.). Plaintiff had an ear flush on January 21, 2017, which removed a ball of wax the size of a penny (Id.). He was seen again on February 11, 2017, but the nurse could not release any more wax in his right ear. The nurse told Plaintiff that he also had wax in his left ear that would need to be removed (Id.). However, Santos later denied Plaintiff had any wax in his left ear (Id.).

         Plaintiff again saw Dr. Santos on February 6, 2017, reporting pain in his kidneys (Doc. 8, p. 5). Santos told him all his lab test results were normal (Id.). Santos also told Plaintiff that he suspected Plaintiff was faking his pain, because Santos had pushed on muscle and not his kidney when palpitating the area (Id.). Plaintiff asked about his BUN/CREAT ratio and asked for an MRI. Santos denied the MRI (Id. at p. 5-6). Plaintiff again saw Santos on February 14, 2017, asking for a CAT scan and an assessment of his BUN/CREAT ration (Id. at p. 6). Santos denied the CAT scan (Id.).

         Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction seeks a referral to a hand specialist, a BUN/CREAT ratio specialist, and a neurologist to treat his hand injury and assess his BUN/CREAT ratio. Plaintiff alleges that his BUN/CREAT ratio has been out of range since 2012 (Doc. 2, p. 7-8) and that it can lead to kidney or liver failure, malnutrition, or the “eating” of his bones (Doc. 2, p. 2, 11, 19). Plaintiff explains that he stopped taking the ear drops he was given, because the label indicated the drops could cause dizziness, and Plaintiff had been experiencing dizziness (Id. at p. 19).

         Defendants Dr. Santos, Dr. Garcia, and Wexford Health Sources, Inc. moved to strike Plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. The Court sees no valid basis to strike the motion for preliminary injunction. The Court DENIES the motion to strike (Doc. 47) and construes the filing as a brief opposing the motion for preliminary injunction.

         Both Garcia and Santos furnished sworn affidavits in support of their brief opposing a preliminary injunction. Dr. Garcia attests that he evaluated Plaintiff on July 27, 2016 for hand pain and provided Plaintiff with medication to treat his pain and numbness (Doc. 47-8, p. 2). Dr. Garcia further attests that he prescribed Plaintiff with Robaxin and a Medrol dose pack (a steroid that prevents inflammation) (Id.; Doc. 47-2, 47-3). Dr. Garcia acknowledged that Plaintiff had a blood test which revealed a BUN/CREAT ratio of 8.1, considered low on a 12-20 reference range (Doc. 47-8, p. 2). Although the score is low, Dr. Garcia does not believe that the results are indicative of a serious medical issue, since the BUN level and Creatinine level individually are each within normal range (Id.). Dr. Garcia dismisses Plaintiff's concerns ...

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