This is the claim of Bernard Patterson, which was tried at Sullivan
Correctional Facility. Mr. Patterson testified on his own behalf and defendant
called Sullivan physician Wladyslaw Sidorowicz and nurse Sharon Lilley. In his
claim, Patterson alleges that he was improperly treated for asthma while
incarcerated at Sullivan.
Claimant testified that on December 19, 2001, he was transferred to Sullivan
from Ulster Correctional Facility. Patterson said he arrived at about midnight
and told an officer in the "draft area" that he needed asthma medication because
he had not had any that day. Claimant added that a nurse was contacted and said
he would have to wait until the morning.
Patterson testified that the following morning, he suffered an "asthma attack"
and was taken to the infirmary where he was given medication. Claimant recalled
that he was told he would be called back later in the day for additional
medications after a doctor wrote prescriptions for them, but this did not
happen. On December 21st, claimant went back to the infirmary and was given a
single 300 mg dosage of the asthma medication Theophylline. Patterson testified
that he told a nurse he needed a greater dosage, but was told that the doctor
had decided to decrease his previous dosage. According to claimant, he had not
yet seen a doctor at Sullivan at such time.
Patterson testified that he continued to suffer asthma problems thereafter and
continued to go back to the infirmary, where he repeatedly told the nurse that
the medication he received was not working and that his asthma was getting
worse. Patterson recalled that he suffered five additional asthma attacks on
January 6th, 9th, 11th, 13th and 14
th, 2002, and each time, he was given a "breathing treatment" at the infirmary.
He testified that he finally saw a doctor on January 14th, who told him he was
receiving less medication because "Albany" needed to "cut the budget." Claimant
explained that prior to his transfer, he had been on 400 mg of Theophylline and
had also been given both a steroid inhaler and an Albuterol inhaler. Once at
Sullivan, he was given no inhalers and his Theophylline prescription was reduced
to 300 mg.
Essentially, Patterson complains that he was not properly evaluated upon
arrival at Sullivan, asserting that he should have been "screened" as soon as he
walked in the door. Patterson also maintained that he should have been "weaned
off" Theophylline, noting that he was switched to the asthma drug Singulair on
May 14, 2002.
* * *
Doctor Wladyslaw Sidorowicz testified that he is in charge of medical care at
Sullivan. He said that upon Patterson's arrival at the facility, he was called
by the night nurse, who said that Patterson was requesting asthma medications,
specifically, Theophylline and inhalers. Sidorowicz testified that because
claimant was not in distress, the nurse was advised to have him return to the
infirmary the next morning.
Sidorowicz stated that the next morning, he reviewed claimant's records and
felt that the Theophylline dosage that claimant had been taking should be
reduced. Sidorowicz testified that Theophylline is prescribed as a "last
resort" because of the danger of side effects such as the risk of heart attack.
The doctor explained that claimant had a history of psychiatric conditions and
Theophylline can interfere with the medications for such conditions. Sidorowicz
also testified that Theophylline is not normally given to inmates as a
prescription to carry out, but rather in single dosages at the infirmary. In
claimant's case, however, a prescription was at one point prescribed (at a lower
200 mg dosage). Sidorowicz described this as a "compromise" agreed upon by
himself and claimant's psychiatrist, because claimant had threatened to cut
himself if he was not given Theophylline.
Sidorowicz also stated that in his view, claimant did not actually suffer from
asthma, but rather from a chronic obstructive lung disease such as emphysema.
The doctor added that he believed claimant acted out asthmatic symptoms in order
to obtain Theophylline, and he said that the medical committee caring for
claimant, which apparently included the psychiatrist, had determined that
claimant was being manipulative to get Theophylline.
As to the process of screening inmates, Sidorowicz explained that if the inmate
has a chronic problem, he is seen by a doctor the day after his arrival. If
not, he is scheduled for the next available appointment with the doctor.
Sidorowicz said that in Patterson's case, there was no need for him to be seen
In order for Mr. Patterson to prevail in this case, he would have to present
expert testimony that accepted standards of medical care were not met. See,
Lyons v McCauley
, 252 AD2d 516, 675 NYS2d 375 (2d Dept 1998), lv
92 NY2d 814, 681 NYS2d 475 (1998). In this case, claimant presented
no such expert testimony as to his screening, his prescribed medications, or
otherwise. In view of the foregoing, claim no. 105571 is
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY