| News |

Bloody vomit, medical neglect and more in Matt Malloy prison lawsuit filed by DU students

Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

Complaints of substandard health care in the Colorado prison system are nothing new, but a newly filed lawsuit by one inmate, alleging that he was neglected in his cell while vomiting blood for three days, makes for particularly interesting reading.

For one thing, Matt Mallory's federal suit was filed by University of Denver law students led by supervising attorneys Brittany Glidden and Laura Rovner -- the same team that's taking on the state system over treatment of mentally ill inmate Troy Anderson .

Rovner, Glidden and company are also challenging federal prisoner Thomas Silverstein's 26-plus years of solitary confinement.

Mallory's complaint also presents a detailed account of the deadly mix of over-prescribing, misdiagnosing and profound indifference that constitutes medical care in the Colorado Department of Corrections -- and in his version, contributed to a gastrointestinal bleed that was then simply ignored

His attorneys say DOC personnel provided Mallory with "copious amounts" of Ibuprofen and other anti-inflammatory drugs after a back injury two years ago -- despite a 2005 medical audit that indicated the system was over-prescribing such drugs, with little attention to their side effects, including ulcers and GI damage. When Mallory began vomiting blood in his cell last fall, he claims he was told to "put a wet washcloth on his head" until medical staff could get around to seeing him.

But no doctor ever came. After two days of vomiting, Mallory claims he was "examined" by a nurse "through the small opening in the steel pod door." The nurse told him he could have the swine flu and suggested a liquid diet. (Bloody vomit, Mallory's complaint notes, is not a flu symptom.)

The following day, the complaint continues, Mallory was too weak to go to the cell door to get his food. An officer told him, "This place isn't like Burger King where you can have it your way." Mallory collapsed trying to reach his food -- and ultimately ended up being taken to one hospital, then another, where he was found to have "a massive upper gastrointestinal bleed secondary to duodenal ulcer, profound anemia, and hypovolemic seizures."

After emergency surgery, Mallory was returned to prison -- where, he claims, he didn't receive the follow-up care he needed. He's now on parole from a six-year nonviolent sentence out of Adams County.

For more on prison medical care, see my feature "Death on the Installment Plan."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.