State blasts medical staff in inmate death

NY: Medical Care "Inadequate " In Inmate Death

BUFFALO, NY - Erie County jail and health officials are being criticized, for how they responded to and cared for an inmate, who died two years ago. A state report says that the death was preventable and criticizes medical staff, saying they failed to follow protocol.

This comes after another state report, released just weeks ago, that said deputies improperly restrained another inmate causing his death.

"Grossly incompetent," "inadequate care" -- just a couple phrases used by the state Commission of Correction to describe multiple Erie County medical professionals, in how they cared for someone in the Erie County Holding Center back in 2014.

That inmate -- 42-year-old David Liddick of Cheektowaga. A state report says he was in custody for possessing a hypodermic instrument and that he had a history of high blood pressure and diabetes.

After a couple days in jail, the report says Liddick started having chest and stomach pains. In an interview with investigators, a deputy said they passed along Liddick's complaints to medical staff and that, medical told the deputy they "did not want to see Liddick at that time."

REPORTER: Is that appropriate?

"That is absolutely incorrect, inmate Liddick was seen 12 times during his stay at the holding center," said Christa Cutrona, Division Director for Correctional Health of Erie County Sheriff's Office.

REPORTER: So is the deputy making that up, did the medical staff go and see him immediately?

"I believe what the COC was referring to was a change of shift and the inmate was seen within a half hour of that call," she said.

But, the report says a nurse failed to follow cardiac chest pain protocol and "there was no evidence of an abdominal examination."

"That is absolutely false and we do have that documentation and it was provided," Cutrona said.

On Sept. 20, 2014, investigators say Liddick was found unresponsive and without a pulse in a wheelchair in the medical department. CPR was done on him and Liddick was taken to Buffalo General where he died of an ulcer. The report says medical had allowed complaints to go unaddressed over an eight hour period.

The WNY Peace Center, has been raising questions about inmate deaths for years. Two weeks ago, a separate state report, said deputies improperly restrained Richard Melcalf, Jr. -- causing his death in 2012.

"I think that it shows that the problems are at the highest level they are pervasive and they're coming from the top down," said Vicki Ross, the executive director of the WNY Peace Center.

In the end, the sheriff's office denies all the allegations in this report. The state recommends, the holding center review all medical staff involved in Liddick's care and say new training should be implemented. The sheriff's office responds in saying it already does such training and reviews.


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