Prison Inmate Death Prompts Investigation

By Jeff Neumeyer

October 15, 2012 Updated Oct 15, 2012 at 6:26 PM EDT

INDIANA, (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- Does the punishment fit the crime?

A Huntington County woman sent to prison on drug charges is now dead, and her father claims it's a case of mismanaged medical care that demands answers and policy change.

" She was an outstanding inmate, the reports even say she was,” says Claude Wood, who lost his daughter back in April.

The pain is still overwhelming, in part, because he's convinced her caregivers dropped the ball.

Rachel Wood was convicted of selling painkillers and sent to prison in 2010.

She got sick behind bars from complications of Lupus, but Claude Wood says it wasn't prison officials, but another inmate who called to let him know.

He says he made repeated attempts to find out what was being done for his daughter.

" She's fine, she's great, don't you worry about it. She's in her cell. We'll have her call you, but that call never was made," said Wood.

In fact, Rachel Wood was moved around, from the Madison Correctional Facility, to the Indiana Women's Prison and to the Rockville Correctional Facility, before she was ever transported to a Terre Haute hospital.

Claude Wood says all state Department of Correction inmates, regardless of where they’re incarcerated, are sent there for treatment.

About three weeks later, Rachel Wood was shipped to a long-term care facility in Indianapolis.

A report we obtained shows early in the ambulance ride on April 13th, Wood was coughing up blood, but the EMS staff didn't turn back.

She died on arrival, prompting the doctor on scene to ask why the patient was not diverted to an emergency room during the transport.

Claude Wood's concerns about his daughter's death increased when he saw the Marion County Coroner's report.

The manner of death is listed as therapeutic misadventure, defined as an unintentional or functional overdose of a therapeutic agent.

It suggests a form of doctor error.

The report indicates two and a half times the appropriate amount of the painkiller Hydrocodone was present in Rachel Wood’s blood at the time of death.

In addition, tests found elevated levels of an anti-depressant called Citalopram.

Rather than the recommended level of 120 nanograms, Wood had more than 3,600 nanograms of that drug in her system.

Claude Wood filed a tort claim against the state, a first step in preparation for a lawsuit.

We contacted the Department of Correction, but were told, due to pending legal proceedings, the DOC is not able to comment.

Wood thinks he knows what happened here.

" The case was mishandled. Wrong judgments, no communication between anybody. My guess would be, well, how much is this going to cost us, there was probably more communication about that than anything.”

Soon, the wounds will be re-opened.

“ It gets worse, she's got a birthday next month," said Wood.

The Indiana Attorney General's office does not comment on claims that are being investigated.

If the state denies the tort claim, the case could go to trial.

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