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Counsel That You Can Trust & Depend On

Is it Deliberate Indifference to withhold Insulin from a diabetic?

Guy DiMartino Oct. 26, 2017

Deliberate Indifference Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that impacts sugar metabolism. A hormone called insulin helps transport sugar (glucose) across the cell membrane so the cell has energy to work. If blood sugar goes too high, the person can go into a coma and die. Some diabetics are required to take insulin to help control their blood sugar. If they do not receive their insulin they can certainly die. Because of the dangers associated with Diabetes it is certainly considered a “serious medical” need.

Why a healthcare provider would withhold a person’s insulin is inhumane and borders on criminal. This is what a jail nurse in Mississippi is up against now. She is being charged criminally for manslaughter and faces a civil lawsuit for violating an inmate’s civil rights.

The Story

A guy, who was a diabetic, was arrested and brought to a Mississippi jail. Seven days later he was dead because a registered nurse, Carmon Brannan, failed to give him insulin. The news report notes that the jail had insulin on hand, including a dose brought by the decedent’s mother, and another dose in the decedent’s glove box. The nurse called his mother and spoke to her about his diabetes, yet she only took his blood sugar one time in seven days.

Witnesses at the jail claimed that the Nurse said the decedent was”faking” his illness. If this bears out to be true, the Nurse’s lack of action is uncalled for.

Criminal Charges

The nurse is set to go to trial on October 16, 2017. If she is convicted and sentenced to jail or prison, she will be totally dependent on the institution’s healthcare providers for her medical needs.

Civil Lawsuit

A civil rights lawsuit alleging that Brannan was deliberately indifferent to the Decedent’s serious medical needs was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi.

The lawsuit alleges that Dixon was arrested and brought to jail. He told the booking officer that he was an insulin dependent diabetic. After the booking process, Brannan called Dixon’s mother and discussed his insulin needs. Dixon’s mom purchased insulin at a pharmacy and brought it to the jail for Dixon. Additionally, Dixon’s insulin was also retrieved from his vehicle.

Brannan did not give Dixon his insulin and failed to intervene when folks reported that his medical condition was deteriorating. Dixon ended up dying for complications associated with his diabetes.

In my view, Brannan will be found liable of deliberate indifference to Dixon’s serious medical needs. In order to be successful, Dixon’s Estate is going to have to show that he had a serious medical need (diabetes is a serious medical need), and that Brannan appreciated the risks of not treating diabetes and showed a callous disregard to the risks. Again, every healthcare provider knows that high blood sugar can cause coma and death.

Nursing License

Brannan is also going to have to worry about her nursing license in this matter. If the nursing board hasn’t already investigated her license, they will surely do so in the future.

This is a sad case. Based on the reports and lawsuit, it appears that the healthcare providers at the jail were just apathetic to the needs of Dixon and as a result of the apathy the young man died.