Inmate's claim against jail doctors for deprivation of medicine is dismissed
In Santiago v. Ringle, et al., the Sixth Circuit concluded that the trial judge had reached the right decision when he dismissed Santiago's "cruel and unusual punishment" case under the Eighth Amendment. The doctors had originally mis-diagnosed a painful skin condition called erythema nodosum (EN) in response to his complaint on January 31. One doctor attested that she gve him Tylenol to treat suspected MRSA (I am not making this up) while a second doctor gave him prescriptions for an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory. Several days later he was sent to Ohio State's Medical Center, where the physician confirmed the EN diagnosis and changed medications. Two weeks later he was seen by an OSU dermatologist who prescribed a topical steroid and a solution of potassium iodide. By now, Santiago was wheelchair bound, however, for various reasons he did not receive the complete range of treatments ordered by the dermatologist until March 5. His condition and symptoms apparently improved almost immediately.
Santiago then filed a 1983 claim against the doctor for mis-managing his care, arguing that they were "deliberately indifferent" to his suffering, denied his the right to be free from "cruel and unusual punishment" and therefore should be liable for civil damages. No judge agreed. The trial judge summarily dismissed the prisoner's claim, holding that if the doctors had interrupted an established treatment plan, they would be guilty of a constitutional violation. Since they had only delayed a "treatment recommendation," however, the judge concluded that Santiago had not raised a valid complaint worthy of a jury trial.
The appellate judges agreed with the dismissal, conluding that Santiago had not proved that he faced a "substantial risk" to his health as a result of the delay in initiating a treatment that was not previously "established."