'Patient X' gouges out eyeball and eats it in US prison
The state of mental health care in California prisons has been questioned after it was revealed an inmate ripped her eye out and ate it during a manic episode.
A report that was leaked last week said the inmate, known only as Patient X, was not medicated even though she was listed as “psychotic” prior to the gruesome incident.
At the time of the alleged incident last year, Patient X had screaming fits every 15 minutes for four hours in her cell, before she eventually laid down on the floor, gouged out her eye and swallowed it.
Chief psychiatrist for the California prison system, Dr Michael Golding, published the 161-page report detailing various systemic failures in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) after he visited numerous prisons throughout the US state.
“This group has created a biased and inaccurately positive picture of what is actually a troubled system of care,” Dr Golding said in the report.
Dr Golding’s report also identified that patients were not being seen on time and were not given the freedom to talk openly with mental health staff.
It also alleged that CDCR falsified how frequently patients were seen by psychiatrists in 2017 and 2018, with their records implying more than 90 percent of appointments were kept on time while Dr Golding’s report indicates it was closer to 50 percent.
The report was filed in federal court as part of a lawsuit against the state that covers almost three decades of poor treatment of inmates and understaffing. It asserts that psychiatric care in prisons is a constitutional right.
It also alleges that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) covered up problems with the systems mental health care.
According to the LA Times, CDCR denies the claims in the report.
“The department strongly disagrees with this individual’s allegations and looks forward to a fair and thorough review and hearing of all the facts,” Press Secretary Vicky Waters said.
On Monday, US District Judge Kimberly Mueller said she would appoint an investigator to determine if state officials lied about the current level of psychiatric care provided in prisons.
In the case of Patient X, the psychologist who evaluated her did not arrange for medication to be administered despite it being reported that she told doctors she needed it even if it was given by force.
The LA Times also reported that medical professionals attached to the CDCR later indicated the failure to provide medication was not the root cause of Patient X removing her eye and eating it.
“The tragedy is that any competent psychiatric physician or general medical physician would have medicated the patient and likely the patient’s eye would still be in her head had that happened,” Dr Golding said.