A report issued last week by court-approved researchers provides a detailed look at medical care in Illinois prisons, outlining delays in treatment, desultory follow-up care and poor record-keeping. The filing claims a host of issues could have cut short the lives of some inmates.
The Illinois Department of Corrections disputed the 405-page report, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago in a class-action suit against the agency. The report makes a damning claim against the IDOC and says, “Illinois has been unable to meet minimal constitutional standards with regards to the adequacy of its healthcare program.” The agency is responsible for 49,000 inmates statewide.
Plaintiffs argued that part of the blame lies with Pittsburgh-based Wexford Health Sources, one of the named defendants. The IDOC in 2011 awarded Wexford a 10-year contract worth more than $1.3 billion to provide healthcare to Illinois' adult inmates, according to the company website.
Wexford has faced previous claims, according to a past contract bid. From Jan. 1, 2004, to Jan. 1, 2009, a total of 463 claims—including letters, demands and both formal and informal letters of intent to sue—were submitted to Wexford from around the country. While it isn't known how many of the claims became lawsuits, Wexford settled 38 of the claims for a total of $3.1 million over the five years. Nine claims were tried to conclusion, and Wexford won five of those verdicts.
Wexford did not respond to requests for comment, but in earlier filings the company has denied allegations contained in the Illinois lawsuit.