Kicked out of hospitals, problem doctors found work in Louisiana's prisons

An investigation into the people responsible for the care of people incarcerated in some of America's most violent prisons - your Friday long read from Buzzfeed News

We go to Buzzfeed for this week’s long read by Addy Baird, read the whole article “Louisiana Bars Problem Doctors From Practicing Medicine In Most Hospitals. So They Treat Incarcerated People Instead.” We include key excerpts below to convince you it’s worth your time!

“Ten of Louisiana's 12 prison physicians have had their medical licenses restricted or suspended at some point. The state’s incarcerated people have nowhere else to turn during a pandemic.”

“In 2006, Randy Lavespere, a Louisiana doctor, was convicted of buying $8,000 of methamphetamine in a Home Depot parking lot with intent to distribute. He served two years in prison, and his medical license was revoked. But even though he had been convicted of a felony and barred from practicing medicine in most circumstances, he was allowed to treat patients in at least one setting: Louisiana state prisons.

In November 2009, just one month after the Louisiana State Medical Board reinstated his medical license and put him on indefinite probation, Lavespere was hired as a physician at the largest maximum security prison in the country, Louisiana State Penitentiary — better known as Angola, after the plantation on which it was built. Lavespere rose through the ranks at the prison, becoming the institution’s medical director in November 2014, less than three weeks after his license was fully reinstated. Earlier this year, he was promoted again, and now serves as the top doctor at the Louisiana Department of Corrections.”


“Ten of the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ 12 physicians — including six medical directors and two assistant medical directors — have had their medical licenses restricted or suspended. Several were disciplined for illegally distributing drugs, two committed fraud, one engaged in sexual misconduct, and another former medical director pled guilty to posession of child pornography, according consent orders issued by the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners.”

“But under their care, a culture of medical neglect has flourished, according to interviews with two men who were previously incarcerated at Angola, a Tulane University doctor who frequently sees patients from Louisiana prisons, a lawyer who has represented many clients in prisons in the state, and the three correctional medicine experts who conducted a comprehensive review of Angola’s medical practices in 2016 as part of a lawsuit against the prison.

’The LSP health care delivery system fails to provide adequate care to the population and places inmates at significant risk of serious harm,’ the review stated. ‘In our collective experience of over 60 years in correctional medicine, the Louisiana State Penitentiary’s delivery of medical care is one of the worst we have ever reviewed.’ “

Bottom line

“Brauner [an inmate] was paralyzed from the waist down, but still deemed a safety risk when he arrived at Angola, so he was locked in a room alone. Brauner said during a recent interview that he was not told that he needed to turn himself in the bed, and he developed a sore on his tailbone. It grew into an infection that spread through his buttocks and into his scrotum.

‘The infection was so bad, it had opened up my bottom, and they put drainage tubes in there, and, I mean, it was — it was bad,’ Brauner said. ‘They didn’t think I was actually going to live.’

After a few weeks at Earl K. Long hospital, he was sent back to Angola. It took more than a year for the infection to clear up, he said.

Following the incident, Brauner filed a lawsuit against Roundtree and MacMurdo, as well as former Angola medical director Jason Collins and two assistant wardens, alleging that the doctors had been deliberately indifferent in caring for his needs.

Brauner alleged in the suit that his pain and wounds were managed inadequately, the showers were unsanitary, he was denied a slide board and special cushions, and that the staff failed to provide proper turning and range of motion therapy.

In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Brauner described feces piled in the showers of the hospital wing, blood and bandages lying on the floor, fly traps hanging above the men while they tried to eat, no privacy during conversations with doctors, and deep mistrust between patients and the medical staff.

In 2015, a judge dismissed the suit, determining that Brauner’s claims did not rise to the high standards of “deliberate indifference.” The Department of Corrections cited that ruling in response to a request for comment on Brauner’s allegation.”

Read the whole article here.

COVID-19 resources: State policy changesNewsBureau of Prisons updatesState court changesPrison holistic self care and protection.

We want to hear from you about how COVID-19 is impacting you and the people connected to you. What is not being talked about? What story do you have that needs to be heard? Who do you want answers or explanations from? Please reach out to