Several Nevada prisoners have filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that prison staff haven’t provided them with necessary treatment for hepatitis C.
Nevada is one of the dozen states where prison officials have denied or limited access to hepatitis C medication due to the high cost. One round of treatment can cost up to $30,000.
Elizabeth Carley, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said that she suffered liver damage, fatigue and stomach pain from hepatitis C. She went to prison in 2012 after getting convicted of theft and forgery. Two years later, she was diagnosed with the disease.
At least three separate times, Carley begged the prison medical staff and prison officials to give her hepatitis C medication. The officials denied her requests, saying that her condition hadn’t progressed enough to meet the criteria for treatment.
“As the disease is allowed to attack my liver, over time, my liver will fail to work properly causing me serious bodily harm,” she said. “It is not medically accurate or proper treatment procedure to wait until hep C gets worse before treating it.”
Nevada prison officials have received several similar complaints and revised their hepatitis C treatment policies last month. However, the lawsuit states that the prison system is still denying or delaying thousands of Nevada inmates suffering from hepatitis C, access to treatment.
The suit claims that the revised policy still causes delays in treatment for many inmates, forcing their condition to worsen and putting them in danger of liver failure, cancer and death.
“While they have appeared to remove the absolute exclusion of some patients, they still have not committed to providing everyone who needs the cure with the cure,” said Maggie McLetchie, whose firm is co-counsel with Hosmer-Henner in the class-action suit. “Prioritizing treatment, by definition, means that they are going to be denying or delaying care to some people who need it.”
“The point is to provide treatment to the inmates for a treatable disease before it worsens to the point that they have irreparable damage to their bodies,” said Adam Hosmer-Henner, a partner in the Nevada law firm McDonald Carano, who is representing the inmates in the class-action suit.