Former inmate Konchise Jackson says he was given an emergency colostomy in 2016, which doctors wanted to reverse two months later–but state health contractors refused to approval the reversal, saying it was not medically necessary.
Former Michigan inmate Konchise Jackson is suing a state jail and prisons health contractor, saying he was forced to endure extreme pain after being passed over for surgery.
Jackson’s lawsuit alleges a simple reason for his chronic discomfort: the jail’s health contractors, and those he later encountered in prison, didn’t want to spend the money. They repeatedly postponed or outright refused to approve a surgery that would’ve corrected his colostomy.
Jackson, says the Detroit Free Press, developed a hole in his colon in 2016. It happened while he was in detention in Port Huron’s St. Clair County Jail. The condition caused fecal matter to leak into Jackson’s bladder. Left uncorrected, Jackson experienced intense pain, fever, nausea and vomiting—simply urinating caused the discharge of fecal matter and with intestinal gas.
According to Jackson’s lawsuit, the jail neither approved corrective surgery nor provided him with an adequate number of replacement bags for his uncontrollable excrement.
“Nobody wanted to be my bunkie, for sure,” Jackson said. “I didn’t get along with others, because of the bag and the smell.”
The Detroit Free Press notes that Jackson’s condition was the cause of at least “a couple altercations.”
In Port Huron, Jackson says he saw a doctor working with St. Clair County Jail’s medical contractor at least four times between July and December 2016. Despite Jackson’s repeated complaints, the physician only diagnosed him with a urinary tract infection, prescribing antibiotics for treatment.
Jackson was only properly diagnosed with a “colovesical fistula” after he was rushed to an emergency room in December 2016. He was treated with a colostomy, wherein part of his colon was rerouted to a plastic bag affixed to his leg.
Hospital doctors never intended Jackson to wear a colostomy bag long-term. Their intent, says the Free Press, was to give Jackson’s colon time to heal. Once it was sufficiently strong, the colostomy would’ve been reversed.
While Jackson’s corrective surgery was scheduled for February 2017, it never happened. In St. Clair, a health provider continuously delayed making any decision, writing it off as a non-emergency and deeming a reversal medically unnecessary.
His lawsuit says the jail’s contractors “postponed Mr. Jackson’s surgery in order to pass the cost of the surgery onto the Michigan Department of Corrections.” But when Jackson was transferred into MDOC custody in March 2017, private corrections healthcare contractor Corizon similarly categorized a colostomy reversal as not “medically necessary.”
“Although Mr. Jackson’s colostomy was intended to be temporary, it was not reversed at any point during his two-year and two-month stay in the Michigan prison system,” the lawsuit states. “Mr. Jackson suffered from pain, incontinence, ostracization and humiliation for the duration of his sentence.”
Jackson’s colostomy was only reversed this past summer, after he was paroled from prison.
Corizon, which is a main defendant in the suit, recently petitioned a court to dismiss Jackson’s suit, somehow suggesting it’s overly vague—and that Jackson has no way to prove Corizon’s decision-making in any way exacerbated his condition. Corizon, notes AzCentral.com, also stated that only the Michigan Department of Corrections, which is not a defendant in the suit, has the power to authorize or reject any corrective surgery.
Ann Arbor attorney Ian Cross said the case raises intriguing questions about how much an inmate must suffer before a treatment can be called “medically necessary.”
“What if this man had a life sentence?” Cross asked. “Is it fine for him to just wear a bag for the rest of his life?”