Crime Trackers

May 12, 2014 12:37 AM by Lupita Murillo

Family claims Pima County jail withheld medication for sick inmate

TUCSON- A mentally ill inmate experienced a seizure while in the Pima County jail. His mother claims, he nearly died.

Corrections officials say they did everything possible to monitor him but they admit he didn't get all of his medications.

It was nearly a year ago when 35-year-old Michael Mascioli was booked into the jail on assault and domestic violence charges. Charges that were later dropped. During the eight days he was locked up, his mother and doctors say he was denied access to medication vital to his health.

Medical reports from the jail obtained by News4 Crime Trackers show Mascioli was "unresponsive" and he had "3 convulsions within 30 minutes." He was found on the floor of his cell.

While on the way to the hospital his mother Kathi Mascioli says, "he had seizures in the ambulance, he had seizures in the Emergency Room." Michael went into respiratory failure and admitted in to ICU and hooked up to a respirator. Kathi claims her son almost died.

His doctor Michael Markowitz wrote in July 2013, just two months after his gran mal seizure, "the seizure he suffered in jail was at least partly precipitated by medication withdrawal."

Michael takes 12 medications a day that include benzodiazepine considered a controlled substance and Tegregol. Medications that Lt. James Snead says were not given to Mascoli. "I'm not a doctor so I can't say that's what caused to him have the seizure , as I said it's possible that withdrawing from that medication could have caused him to have that seizure."

Kathi says per her son's doctors all of the medication prescribed is necessary to control seizures, and his multiple mental illnesses, that include, intermittent explosive disorder. "Something goes snap in his brain and once he passes that line there's no calming him down he just goes wild."

That's when the group home he lives in calls the police. Sometimes he's taken to the psychiatric hospital or to the jail.

Documents obtained by News 4 Crime Trackers, show he's on court ordered treatment. He's listed as "gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder."

When Michael is not having one of these episodes his mother says, "he's normally loveable, intelligent, friendly, kind person."

Jail officials say they are aware of Michael's issues and they claim they kept a close eye on him. Lt. Smead explains, "anybody that comes off a controlled substance like that is prone to seizure activity and he was placed on anti seizure medication in order to help prevent that."

Lt. Smead says controlled substances are only given to inmates when the drug is needed for medical reasons. "We were not able to verify that it was a medical necessity it seemed to be more of a behavior modification."

Michael was placed on what they call withdrawal protocol. For seven days he was monitored and evaluated twice a day by a nurse. "His vital signs were stable and there was no indication he was having problems withdrawing from that medication."

Michael was also withdrawing from Tegregol. It's used to treat seizures and it's not a controlled substance.

Lt. Smead says he's not clear on why the inmate wasn't given that medication.

A hospital document clearly states the need to continue Depakote and Tegretol to prevent seizure activity. Mascioli says, "when my son or somebody else's son or daughter with similar situation ends up in the jail, I don't want this to happen to them."

For now Michael has been doing well and hasn't been in jail, or had any seizures. But jail officials say as a rule they don't give out controlled substances because of the population behind those walls who would do anything to get their hands on those drugs.


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