No hip joint or painkiller, inmate lives in a wheelchair

When the lights go out at Columbia Correctional prison, George Horn hunkers down in his wheelchair and tries for a few hours of rest.

Sleeping in his bunk is unthinkable.

The 53-year-old says he can lie only on his left side and only for about 30 minutes before the pain kicks in.

Horn has no hip joint.

Relief isn’t available. Prescribed morphine for two years as the joint rotted, Horn was forced off the painkiller cold-turkey.

Horn’s troubles started well before Wexford Health Sources took charge of his medical care, but it is Wexford that left him without a hip joint.

Serving time on an 11-year burglary sentence, Horn’s defective artificial hip joint became infected. Two private-practice specialists hired by the Department of Corrections prescribed surgery to replace the joint. That didn’t happen.

Instead, over the next several months, a state prison doctor drained pus from the hip, said Horn. Antibiotics failed to stem the infection. He was placed in a prison unit providing relief to terminally ill inmates.

In February 2013, he was sent to Kendall Hospital for a heart procedure.

The same two doctors who had recommended hip surgery 19 months earlier saw Horn on a stretcher. They asked how the surgery went, said Horn. “When I told them I hadn’t had it, they thought I was joking,” he said.

Seven days later, a specialist operated. But the delay was costly for Horn and taxpayers alike: Instead of a joint replacement, complex surgery was required to save Horn’s badly infected leg from amputation. And instead of one surgery, another three surgeries would be needed.

The last surgery would replace Horn’s hip joint, as the defective one had been removed.

Wexford, which by then was providing medical treatment at the prison housing Horn, authorized the procedure.

Then it unexpectedly required another opinion.

The new doctor said he would not operate on Horn.

Wexford subsequently denied Horn’s surgery, leaving him without a hip joint.

For two years, Horn said he had been given liquid morphine to deal with the pain.

However, a Wexford doctor abruptly stopped the painkiller. “She said she would not be a drug dealer,” Horn recalled. Morphine had been found as contraband at the prison, and, according to Horn’s suit, the doctor said she would not be giving it out any longer.

In addition to significant and prolonged flu-like symptoms, rapid withdrawal from morphine can be dangerous, triggering everything from increased heart rate to decreased blood sugar levels. Symptoms can linger for weeks. The longer the use, the more severe the symptoms.

They can be reduced with medical assistance. Horn said he got none.

Horn has been transferred to a prison where Corizon handles medical care. Recently, he said another consultation with a surgeon had been approved.

“Being in prison is my punishment to pay my debt to society.” said Horn. “I messed up.” But, he said, “I’m a prisoner, not a monster.

“It’s a terrible thing to say, but I wish God would take me.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

'Tide Pod Challenge' causes some retailers to lock up product
'Tide Pod Challenge' causes some retailers to lock up product

The viral challenge that involves people filming themselves biting into laundry detergent pods is causing some retailers to take security measures to prevent people from shoplifting the product, WTSP reported. The so-called Tide Pod Challenge has prompted a warning from U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which said ingesting the pods...
WATCH: Florida man steals exotic fish, stuffs them down his pants
WATCH: Florida man steals exotic fish, stuffs them down his pants

A Florida man is accused of stealing exotic fish from a pet store by stuffing them down his pants.  Cruz Orlando Garcia Jr., of Largo, entered Pet Safari in Clearwater on Jan. 9 with his alleged accomplice, Crystal Dixon. Dixon distracted the store clerk while Garcia Jr. stole Electric Blue Acaras and Blue Ram Cichlids, police told WFLA....
Sessions interviewed by Mueller team as part of Russia probe, report says
Sessions interviewed by Mueller team as part of Russia probe, report says

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed last week by special counsel Robert Mueller’s office as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and its possible ties to President Donald Trump’s campaign team, The New York Times reported Tuesday.
Shooting reported at Kentucky high school
Shooting reported at Kentucky high school

Authorities responded Tuesday morning to reports of a shooting at a high school in Kentucky, according to multiple reports. 
NEW: Child lured to Greenacres apartment, sexually battered, PBSO says
NEW: Child lured to Greenacres apartment, sexually battered, PBSO says

Nearly a year after he reportedly forced a 13-year-old into a Greenacres-area apartment and inappropriately touched the young teen, Markendel Alexis has been arrested on sexual battery and kidnapping charges. Alexis, 22, was booked Friday evening into the Palm Beach County Jail, where he is being held without the possibility of posting bond. A judge...
More Stories