Family of Berkeley County inmate sues after she was left unattended in cell, later dies

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 2:16 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 7:28 PM EDT
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The husband of a Berkeley County woman is suing two inmate medical providers, two doctors and Trident Medical Center, claiming his wife died because of their negligence.

The lawsuit alleges the woman was given an overdose reversal medicine and left unattended in jail while she vomited, defecated, and aspirated before she later ultimately died.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday by Elliott, Phelan, & Kunz, LLC on behalf of Joshua Jeffcoat states his wife, Bridgett Jeffcoat, was booked into the Dorchester County jail in November of 2019. Public records show it was for a hit and run.

The lawsuit says Jeffcoat suffered from a heroin addiction.

“As a result, the decedent required proper clearance from a local hospital or health care professional before being booked into [the Dorchester County Detention Center],” the lawsuit states.

The suit alleges Southern Health Partners, which provides healthcare for inmates at the jail, accepted her into the jail without getting a history and proof of clearance from a local hospital or doctor. The lawsuit also alleges the company did not include an accurate record of her drug history or current drug use when she was booked into the jail.

The suit claims Southern Health Partners and one of its doctors were grossly negligent by not treating or monitoring potential withdrawal complications.

In an email from the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office, Lt. Rick Carson says:

“Ms. Jeffcoat was booked into our jail by the North Charleston Police Department on November 17, 2019. She was brought to our facility after NCPD had taken her to Trident Medical Center to get her cleared for incarceration.

Custody of Ms. Jeffcoat was transferred to Berkeley County on November 18, 2019.”

Once at the Berkeley County Jail, the lawsuit states the jail’s contracted medical provider, Wellpath, LLC, and one of its doctors did not properly screen her, nor did it include information about drug history or current drug use.

At some point, Jeffcoat was given Narcan, an overdose reversal medicine, and she was allowed to lie on the cell floor unattended “while withdrawing vomiting, defecating, directly and proximately caused her to aspirate and a develop a fatal pneumonia,” the suit states.

Court documents also accuse Trident Medical Center of failing to properly treat Jeffcoat once she was transferred there.

In response to the lawsuit, a spokesman for Trident says:

“We believe the care we provided was appropriate and will be defending ourselves through the legal process. We are proud of the skilled and compassionate care our team members provide every day.”

The defendants’ breaches of medical care caused Jeffcoat pain and suffering and ultimately her preventable death, the suit alleges.

Jeffcoat’s husband is suing for negligence and wrongful death and is seeking compensation for damages like funeral costs, mental suffering and more.

In a statement, Wellpath says:

“Wellpath delivers quality care to all their patients. Due to privacy laws, Wellpath is unable to comment on the care provided in this case.”

We also reached out to Southern Health Partners, which has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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