A Vero Beach, Florida man was incarcerated for two years for having a standing seizure outside a laundromat. His arms were flailing as he walked in circles talking nonsense, so someone called 911 and a responding officer walked within his reach and was struck. The medic alert wrist band was ignored, even when the man lapsed into unconsciousness after being arrested; they did not transport him to the hospital. That man’s epilepsy was the result of being brutally beaten by a robber who snuck up on him while he was fishing.
No one has a thick enough skull to prevent their becoming the newest person on the planet with epilepsy. IED’s, violent robbers or demented fathers aren’t required … forget a cupboard door is open and stand up beneath it, find out your seat belt wasn’t properly fastened with a windshield encounter, or simply bump heads with someone.
Florida corrections personnel append the all-caps admonition “WE NEVER WALK ALONE” to their emails, but decision-makers may find that deliberately disregarding new information on Dilantin and duress may make indeed isolate and ostracize them. It’s time to assist Gary Bennett and other inmates with epilepsy, sans further ado.
From: Susan Chandler
Date: July 20, 2011 7:50:48 PM EDT
To: Gretl Plessinger <plessinger.gretl></plessinger.gretl>
Cc: Edward Hand <hand.edward>, Regina Harris <harris.regina>, Norma Gilo <gilo.norma>, Hantz Hercule <hercule.hantz>, Stephen Whitfield <whitfield.stephen></whitfield.stephen></hercule.hantz></gilo.norma></harris.regina></hand.edward>
Subject: Fwd: Bennett, Gary #092481
Gretl Plessinger, Public Affairs Director
Florida Department of Corrections
501 South Calhoun Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2500
Dear Ms. Plessinger:
I am writing to you out of deep frustration with Edward Hand’s untowardly dismissive response to the email I sent him earlier today.
Gary Bennett has been incarcerated for 27.5 years with no access to private physicians or pharmacists; he obviously will not report to sick call with issues on being prescribed Dilantin when he has no knowledge that being prescribed Dilantin is an issue of itself, nor will he report that he needs additional help due to the duress he’s under when at the time he was incarcerated, no attention was paid whatsoever to stress causing seizures, which I state with confidence as someone whose epilepsy was diagnosed in the early 70’s.
I quote Joseph Sirven, M.D. from the June 2011 link below, “There is no consistent significant association between the serum phenytoin [Dilantin] concentration and any measures of toxicity or effectiveness.”
In other words, blood tests won’t tell Florida corrections medical personnel if Gary – or any other inmate on Dilantin – is adequately dosed, inadequately dosed or overdosed.
Sirven’s article also addresses Diltantin’s disturbing array of side effects.
As to stress causing seizures and making pre-hearing inmate epilepsy specialist assessments necessary, another epilepsy.com link below provides insight … 90% of the poll participants see a direct link between stress and seizures, and 6% “don’t know,” leaving only 4% who see no link between stress and seizures.
Again, I ask that theses matter be discussed immediately with Secretary Buss so as to avoid any unnecessary inmate deaths related to epilepsy, including Gary’s. Thank you.
From: Susan Chandler
Date: Tuesday, July 19, 2011 11:21 PM
To: Hand, Edward
Cc: Plessinger, Gretl; Harris, Regina; Gilo, Norma; Hercule, Hantz; Whitfield, Stephen
Subject: Re: Bennett, Gary #092481
Edward S. Hand (Eddie)
Health Services Administrator – DC – SES
Northwest Florida Reception Center
4455 Sam Mitchell Drive
Chipley, FL 32428
Dear Mr. Hand:
Thank you for your emailed apology for mistaking me for one of Gary Bennett’s sisters. The additional medical information you provided in that email indicates that I didn’t write clearly enough for you to understand the danger that Gary is in. I will try again.
Dilantin is the epilepsy medication that I was specifically referring to that is prone to providing false blood levels in testing.
If Gary’s blood levels are testing falsely, a breakthrough seizure could take his life. Breakthrough seizures are predicable under duress, and as I previously stated, Gary has two judicial circuits well-accustomed to working together to achieve desired verdicts – not justice – putting their full weight on him right now.
Given the deliberate duress Gary is under, he needs to see an epilepsy specialist as soon as possible. An October appointment may be too little, too late.
And although I’m gravely concerned for Gary, this isn’t a one-inmate issue.
Dilantin is an ancient epilepsy medication, and its widespread use by corrections facilities – perhaps related to cost – is now unreasonable given the new understanding of its phantom blood level testing traits and long-term side effects. Quite simply, Dilantin can’t remain the drug of choice to dispense to imates with epilepsy; there are no do-overs for fatal seizures arising from the mistaken belief that blood levels tests are accurate.
Additionally, any inmate with epilepsy who is facing hearings should be assessed by an epilepsy specialist prior to being transported; there are no do-overs for being unable to fully comprehend and participate in one’s own defense, either. Medication levels may need to be temporarily elevated for the duration of hearings.
I encourage you to advocate for Gary immediately and insistently, so that he and other inmates with epilepsy aren’t served death warrants through the corrections system’s failure to make changes warranted by medical advances. I have copied Ms. Plessinger in hopes that she will address the matter with Secretary Buss. Please share this email with anyone you feel may be of assistance in making sure that Dilantin doesn’t cause premature inmate deaths.