Human Rights Review Tribunal,  NZHRRT 33, (18 October 2016)
The Director brought proceedings against the Department of Corrections (the Department) in the Human Rights Review Tribunal. The proceedings were resolved by way of negotiated agreement involving a declaration by the Tribunal that the Department breached Right 4(1) of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers' Rights, by failing to provide health services to the aggrieved person (Mr E), with reasonable care and skill.
Mr E was a prisoner at Auckland (also known as Paremoremo) Prison and on 11 June 2013 had a tooth extracted in circumstances where the procedure was described as "difficult". Subsequent to the tooth extraction Mr E was prescribed, at various times and to address pain and treat infection, Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, Augmentin, Metronidazole, Voltaren and Naproxen. Between 11 June 2013 and 18 August 2013 the Department failed to administer Mr E's prescription medication to him in accordance with the prescriber's directions so that he only received sporadic treatment. At other times Mr E was given more medication than he was prescribed or was administered non-prescription medication without the required pre-medication assessment. In addition and on multiple occasions, the Department failed to appropriately respond to Mr E's requests for pain relief and medical assessments to address his pain, facial swelling and infection.
On 12 June 2013, in order to address issues Mr E was having with maintaining a regular diet, he was prescribed a soft food diet. Despite the soft food diet being prescribed on 12 June 2013, it was not started until the evening of the 14 June 2013, at which point Mr E was struggling with even soft food as his jaw was swollen and locked closed causing him difficulty with swallowing. The Department subsequently stopped Mr E's soft food diet on 17 June 2013, without assessing him to see if he would be able to manage on a regular diet. At that time Mr E was not able to accommodate a regular diet.
Mr E was entirely reliant on the staff at the Prison health centre to assess, evaluate and treat him appropriately. As a result of the Department's failure to do so, Mr E suffered with significant pain and swelling in circumstances where he had no ability to access health services elsewhere. The Department failed in their obligation under the Corrections Act 2004 to provide health care to Mr E that was "reasonably equivalent to the standard of health care available to the public".
The Tribunal's full decision can be found at:
Last reviewed February 2019