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Investigation finds more deadly delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment in Washington state prisons

Michael Boswell’s cracked, bleeding back injury started at the size of the Q-tip, his sister recalls, but quickly grew to half a dollar and then a silver dollar.

Boswell, who is being held in a Washington, D.C., Valla Valley Penitentiary, has filed a complaint seeking medical treatment back in May 2019, but for months was turned down by prison medical staff, who said the increase was unfavorable.

When he finally underwent surgery in September 2019, the test showed that it was malignant melanoma. The surgeon recommended an “urgent” operation, including a scan and another operation, which was delayed by the Department of Corrections for several months.

When Boswell held the first session of chemotherapy in June 2020, aggressive skin cancer was rampant. He died a month later at the age of 37.

“She told them we had a family history of cancer. They ignored it, “said Boswell’s sister, Megan Kineman, by telephone from Bos. “They literally closed their eyes.”

Boswell’s story is detailed in a new investigative report from the Office of Corrections (OCO), which examined 11 cases of delayed diagnosis and treatment of cancer in public prisoners over the past few years.

In addition to Boswell’s death, several other men whose cases are reported have said that their cancers are now definitive or likely to be definitive; at least two have been released from death in hospitals or other facilities.

Men range from 35 to 68 years old. They complained of symptoms, including bloody stools, recurrent abdominal pain, and shortness of breath, but their brush was removed or not taken seriously.

It took an average of 6.5 months for DOC medical staff or outside providers to diagnose male cancer after the initial symptoms, which is much longer than the one-month target set by the World Health Organization and other experts. One man has not been diagnosed for about 17 months.

Such delays were a recurring theme in previous OCO reports about failures that led to the deaths of two inmates at a Monroe correctional facility. The new report expands on the study of cancer care delays across prisons across the state.

“We are obviously concerned about what we are finding,” said CO. Anna Carnes, CEO of OCO. “We continue to make those reports because the problem does not go away.”

In response to a written request, the DOC acknowledged the cases highlighted in the ombudsman investigation as “not in line with our goals” in the healthcare sector.

“It is not acceptable for those in our care to expect a diagnosis or treatment that may affect their well-being,” the DOC said in a statement.

DOC spokesman Jacques Ak Coon e. The agency said in a statement on Friday that it had “taken a number of steps to improve the efficiency, accuracy and timeliness of our cancer patients.”

Coe says the DOC has asked the legislature for more money to increase staff needed, as well as to fund an e-health record system.

“The department is very serious about providing quality health care to those under its responsibility and will continue to look for ways to improve the reliability and quality of patients’ health,” Coe added.

In recent months, the DOC has been rocked by its top management, including Secretary-General Stephen Sinclair, who announced his retirement on January 26 after more than three decades in office.

The draft OCO report was submitted to Governor Aye Insley on January 14, Carns reported. The introduction was written by Dr. Patricia David, a former DOC Medical Quality Officer who has traveled to work for the OCO, which reports to the governor.

For the Boswell family, any improvement in cancer care at DOC will be too late.

Kineman has been relentlessly investigating his brother’s death, providing medical records and collaborating with the OCO investigation. (The new OCO report does not name any of the 11 detainees whose treatment was investigated by name because of medical confidentiality laws, but Kinemann confirmed that his brother was “Patient A” described in the report.

Although some DOC medical staff seemed to be really trying to help Boswell, Kineman said: “It was some of his constituents who killed him,” said a DOC health worker who said he had been worsening his brother’s symptoms for months.

When Boswell died, his cancer spread throughout his body. His eyes were swollen, his skin was yellow, and blackheads covered his head and legs, said Kineman, who visited his brother days before his death.

“It simply came to our notice then. It’s ungodly, “said Kinemann. “To an honest God. If he had treatment, he would be with us today. ”

Kineman և Boswell’s mother, Rhonda Clemens, testified in the legislature this year, asking for reforms to prevent other inmates և families from passing on what they suffered.

They supported Senate Bill 5119, which calls for expert scrutiny of “incarceration” cases in state prisons and county jails, and reports are made public. The bill has been passed by the state Senate and is moving forward in the House.

Boswell was sentenced to more than 30 years in prison for attempted murder of his ex-girlfriend in 2011, who he shot and poisoned for claiming he had attempted to kill himself, according to a report in The Columbian newspaper.

Despite his guilt, Kinemann said that his brother մարդիկ other imprisoned people do not deserve to suffer because of disability or indifference. “Yes, they are in prison, yes, they made mistakes, but they deserve treatment,” he said.

The state has a legal obligation under the Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution, which prohibits “cruel, unusual” punishment to provide adequate medical care to prisoners.

Kineman said his brother made wooden furniture while in prison, was extremely skilled in the craft, and earned the respect of other DOC staff, some of whom sobbed when he died.

Kinnemann said he and the rest of his family had not taken legal action against the DOC because they were focused on reforming other prisoners to help their families.

“We are not doing it for money, we are doing it for change,” he said.

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