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Deavers v. Diggins

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division

October 6, 2014

KATHY DIGGINS, et al., Defendants.


JAMES R. SPENCER, Senior District Judge.

THIS MATTER is before the Court on Defendant Kathy Diggins' Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint ("Motion") (ECF No. 33), pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff did not file a Memorandum in Opposition and neither party has requested a hearing on the matter. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED with respect to paragraphs 47 and 48 of the Amended Complaint.


a. Factual Background

Cassandra Deavers was forty-eight years old on December 8, 2011, when she was sentenced to serve thirty days' incarceration in the Rappahannock Regional Jail ("Jail") for her conviction of Driving Under the Influence, second offense. At the time, Deavers was under the treatment of a physician for a prior pulmonary embolism and had been prescribed a daily dose of the blood thinner warfarin.[1] On December 1, 2011, seven days prior to her sentencing, Deavers' primary care physician increased her dosage of warfarin to twelve milligrams per day and had ordered that her International Normalized Ratio and Prothrombin Time ("INR/PT") levels be checked on a weekly basis. An individual's INR/PT levels are indications of the time required for a patient's blood to clot and, therefore, are important indicators of whether the patient's warfarin dose is too high, putting her at risk for internal bleeding, or too low, putting her at risk for embolism.

After being sentenced on December 8, 2011, Deavers was transferred to the Jail to begin her incarceration. Deavers' personal property was inventoried, and the Jail medical staff performed a physical examination of Deavers. During these procedures, Deavers informed RRJA medical staff that she was prescribed warfarin, which was to be taken daily, and that her INR/PT levels were to be checked weekly. The RRJA medical staff also noted that Deavers was allergic to aspirin.

On December 10, 2011, a nurse employed in the medical staff took Plaintiff's blood for the intent of obtaining her INR/PT levels. The results of this first test showed that Deavers' INR/PT levels were too high, putting her at risk for uncontrolled bleeding and indicating that her dose of warfarin should have been decreased.[2] The Amended Complaint alleges that the Defendants "failed to check on the test results, and failed to take the necessary therapeutic steps to correct" Deavers' out-of-range INR/PT levels. (Am. Compl. ΒΆ 25.)

A Physician Orders sheet signed by an unidentified nurse indicates that on December 12, 2011, an unidentified physician ordered Deavers' INR/PT levels to be checked again in two weeks. The same nurse never attempted to follow up on the results of her first blood test. On that same day, Deavers submitted a written inquiry to the RRJ staff inquiring about her test results, but was not given any information.

On December 21, 2011, Deavers completed a medical request form ("First Medical Request") complaining of a headache lasting for the previous three days. Deavers indicated that medical request forms had not been available for the prior three days. The following day, on December 22, 2011, Deavers had a medical examination at which time it was noted that a hard, red bump had appeared on her buttock two days prior. Defendant Dahlberg, not having examined Deavers, signed off on a physician order sheet diagnosing her with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ("MRSA"). No one addressed the fact that severe headaches are a symptom of warfarin toxicity, and failed to check on the results of her December 8th blood test or otherwise address Deavers' INR/PT levels. Deavers was kept on the same dosage of Warfarin.

On December 31, 2011, Deavers had her blood drawn by Defendant Diggins for a second INR/PT test. Deavers asked Diggins what the results of her first test were and Diggins responded, "No news is good news." That same day, Deavers completed another medical request form ("Second Medical Request"). The Second Medical Request indicated that Deavers had bruising on the backs of both legs and was experiencing significant pain as a result.

On January 1, 2012, Deavers completed yet another medical request form ("Third Medical Request") complaining of a stomach ache lasting for two days and irregular bowel movements since her incarceration began. That same day, Deavers was given a physical exam by Diggins. Despite knowing that Deavers was taking warfarin, Diggins took no action beyond prescribing Deavers Tylenol for her pain complaints. Diggins did not check the results of either of Deavers' INR/PT tests and did not refer Deavers for additional care.

On January 4, 2012, Deavers' blood was redrawn for an INR/PT test. By this time, Deavers still had not learned the results of her initial lab work. At 9:00 p.m. that evening, Deavers began bleeding profusely from the needle site. Deavers continued to bleed out in her cell throughout the night. Finally, at 5:00 a.m., when the cell doors were unlocked, Deavers attempted to leave, but immediately lost consciousness, fell, and hit her head.

Deavers was transported to Mary Washington Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a large retroperitoneal hematoma "most likely secondary to Coumadin (Warfarin) toxicity, " acute blood loss, anemia, and dehydration secondary to blood loss. Deavers remained in the hospital for five days, receiving multiple blood transfusions and placement of an inferior vena cava filter. Deavers was ...

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