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Man's hand badly infected: Doctor

Sep. 21, 2004

MIDLANDóBy the time an inmate at Canada's first privately run jail was sent to a hospital, a tiny cut on his finger had become so seriously infected a lot of the fat and tissue had been destroyed, an inquest has heard.

"The long tendons to the finger had also been eaten away by the pus,'' Dr. James Lacey, a plastic surgeon who operated on Jeffrey Elliott, told the inquest in Midland yesterday.

Elliott, 20, cut his finger on the food hatch in the door of a fellow inmate's cell at the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene on Aug. 1, 2003. He died Aug. 29, 2003, of an acute gastrointestinal hemorrhage resulting from septic complications of a hand injury.

Earlier in the inquest, Dr. Paul Binhammer, a hand surgeon at Toronto's Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, said the jail's medical staff "missed the boat" in treating Elliott, of Beachburg near Pembroke, who was serving time for robbery.

By Aug. 9, Elliott's wound was seeping pus, indicating it was "in an advanced stage" of tenosynovitus, a serious infection of the tendons. But a doctor didn't see him until two days later, the jury heard.

The jail's doctor, Dr. James Bolton, saw Elliott on Aug. 5 and again on Aug. 11 when he sent him to see Lacey at Barrie's Royal Victoria Hospital the next day.

Lacey operated on Elliott Aug. 12. Six days later, Lacey discovered a small pool of pus had re-formed and readmitted Elliott to hospital, but on Aug. 22 his hand was "much improved" and he was transferred back to the jail's medical unit, Lacey said.

Lacey booked Elliott for a return visit Aug. 29, but on Aug. 25 Elliott collapsed and was airlifted to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto where he lapsed into a coma and died.

The inquest continues.

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