Standard of Care Not Different for Incarcerated Patients
An Indiana inmate, Christa Allen, underwent gender reassignment surgery in January of 2002. Part of her treatment after surgery included the use of a vaginal stent, a soft plastic appliance worn internally like a tampon to help prevent closure of the vaginal vault. Allen was incarcerated from March 2006 through December 2007, during which time the defendants, Dr. Richard Hinchman, Dr. Richard Tanner, and Dr. Jeffery Smith were each responsible for a portion of her medical care.
During Allen's incarceration, she was denied the use of the vaginal stent on the grounds that it was not medically necessary for her health. After she was released from incarceration, she was unable to resume use of the stent because her vaginal vault had contracted too much to allow its use. She was given an estimate of between $60,000 and $120,000 to surgically correct the problem.
Allen filed a proposed complaint against the defendant doctors. After a medical review panel found in favor of the defendants, Allen filed her complaint in Marion Superior Court. The defendants argued that the physicians that operated inside a prison were held to a different standard of care. The trial court ruled in favor of the defendants and dismissed the case. The appeals court didn’t agree and ordered a new trial.