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State

Doctor files lawsuit over prescriptions policy for state inmates

Looking through the bars of a black and white prison cell
File Photo
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WBFO News

Five years since New York tried to crack down on prescription drug abuse in state prisons, some incarcerated New Yorkers and doctors say the state's policy is still too strict and leaves patients with conditions from multiple sclerosis to spinal injuries untreated and in agony.

A lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in northern New York claims the state's corrections agency violated Dr. Michael Salvana's rights to speak up against the policy. Salvana, the former facility director at the Walsh Regional Medical Unit at Mohawk Correctional Facility in Rome, NY, claims in his suit that he was forced to quit and faced harassment trying to get appropriate medical care for his inmates.

State corrections officials have said the policy has increased oversight for potentially addictive medications, as they fight prescription abuse. They declined comment on the pending litigation.

Critics have said the policy takes too sweeping a stance against certain medications, and puts incarcerated people's medical decisions in the hands of corrections medical officials who have never seen them.

A separate lawsuit is being fought over the policy by incarcerated individuals who claim they have been forced to live with untreated chronic pain and other conditions because some medications have become too difficult to get behind bars.