In June, a Manhattan Detention Complex inmate named Rudolph Richardson was using the bathroom in his cell when a guard shut an electronic door on his left middle finger, partially severing it. Richardson sought medical attention, which he found in the form of a doctor who ordered him to throw his own finger in the trash, according to a lawsuit.
Dr. Landis Barnes, an employee of the city's jail health contractor, Corizon,briefly looked at Richardson's hand and told him the finger could not be saved.
"Incredibly, Dr. Barnes informed Richardson that he should throw the detached portion of his finger in the garbage," the complaint says.
Richardson refused and asked for ice or a solution to preserve his finger, according to the complaint.
"Dr. Barnes reluctantly fulfilled this request," the complaint says.
Richardson demanded that his wound be properly wrapped so the bleeding would slow. He then asked to fill out an incident report, and was held in a locked room after he filled it out.
Ultimately, Richardson was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where his finger was reattached.
Corizon, the Tennessee-based for-profit company that handles medical care for all New York City jails, has a history of malpractice and abuse, and complaints against it have recently become harder for the city to ignore. This year, the family of a teenaged Rikers inmate who died of a torn aorta and was prescribed nothing more than hand cream has sued the company, as has the family of a father who bled to death after his ulcer allegedly went untreated by Corizon's doctors.
But civil action isn't likely to make Corizon's behavior change: The provider's $400 million contracts with the city contain an indemnification clause protecting it from malpractice lawsuits, meaning if the mourning families win their cases, it will be taxpayers handing over money, not Corizon.
Fortunately, change may be on the way: At a City Council hearing last week, several councilmembers reamed Corizon out over inmate deaths, and a representative of the health department told DNAinfo that the city is pursuing other healthcare options. Corizon's contracts are up at the end of the year.