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Man sues for lack of withdrawal treatment in Cuyahoga County Jail

Many people who are sentenced to jail in Ohio and throughout the country are suffering from alcohol and/or drug addiction. When they're suddenly cut off from the substance(s) to which they're addicted, they can suffer serious withdrawal symptoms that need to be treated by trained medical professionals.

A 29-year-old Cleveland man is suing Cuyahoga County and The MetroHealth System, among others because he says that while he was in the county jail going through withdrawal from alcohol and drugs, his symptoms were ignored. The man was in the jail for nearly three weeks in September 2016 on a drug charge.

According to the lawsuit, employees of MetroHealth, which is tasked with providing medical services to inmates, did not correctly assess or treat his withdrawal symptoms. He said these included frightening and violent hallucinations that lasted for days. He says he also lost the ability to communicate.

A physician's assistant, according to the suit, determined that the young man was faking. He was treated like an unruly inmate. At one point, he was placed in restraints.

The suit, which alleges malpractice and civil rights violations, says that the inmate "was in fact not being uncooperative or unpredictable. He was suffering from severe and dangerous withdrawal...." Eventually a doctor ordered medication to be administered to him.

The lawsuit claims that the jail and MetroHealth lack the policies and procedures necessary to properly treat inmates going through withdrawal, and in fact has a history of letting them "needlessly suffer and even die." Nearly a decade ago, R&B singer Sean Levert died at the same jail after staff denied him anti-anxiety medication.

People lose many rights and freedoms when they go to jail. However, they are still entitled to proper health care from qualified medical professionals. When they don't receive that care and suffer harm or worse, they or their surviving loved ones should look into their options for legal recourse.

Source: Cleveland.com, "Former Cuyahoga County Jail inmate sues, says staff ignored severe withdrawal symptoms," Eric Heisig, Aug. 29, 2017

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