PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A former prisoner has filed a $2.6 million federal lawsuit against Douglas County and an independent health care company for allegedly causing irreparable and permanent damage to his penis during medical procedures he underwent as an inmate in the Douglas County Jail.
According to the claim filed on March 23, Troy Russell Phelps “cannot use his penis in any capacity” after an Oregon doctor, Douglas County jail staff, and employees and Wellpath Management Inc. caused multiple injuries over the course of several faulty medical procedures in 2017.
The claim filed by Phelp’s attorney, Benjamin Haile, said prior to his client’s May 2017 incarceration, Phelps was forced to use a urethral catheter to urinate due to previous injuries he had sustained as a child.
Phelps was booked into the Douglas County Jail on May 31, 2017, and later convicted on one count of reckless burning and one count of convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
The complaint states that with the use of a French catheter, Phelps had been successfully self-catheterizing without issue before and during his incarceration. However, that allegedly all changed when jail staff shifted his medical plan in June.
“Instead of allowing Mr. Phelps to self-catheterize, which the jail had allowed previously, in June 2017 jail medical staff inserted and oversaw the drainage of a Foley catheter,” the suit stated. “The Foley catheter caused Mr. Phelps discomfort and ultimately eroded his urethra due to the use of an ineffective catheter strap and other problems.”
According to the claim, the scar tissue and injuries sustained from the botched procedure prevented Phelps from being able to return to self-catheterization, as he had done previously.
As a result of the damage, the suit said Phelps required a two-part reconstructive surgery to repair his urethra, however, an additional mistake made by medical staff left Phelps with further injuries, the complaint said.
“After the completion of the second stage of surgery, John Doe incorrectly inserted a Foley catheter and inflated an anchoring bulb in Mr. Phelps’ urethra (as opposed to the bladder),” Haile wrote. “This action ripped the urethral suture line and indefinitely prolonged the time Mr. Phelps will be required to use a suprapubic catheter provided to him after the surgery.”
The claim chronicled the numerous medical issues Phelps endured during his incarceration at the Douglas County Jail, beginning with the switch from his French catheter in 2017 until the incorrectly attached Foley catheter fell out of him in 2019.
On Sept. 3, 2017, Phelps wrote to Wellpath Management Inc. staff, which was formerly known as Correct Care Solutions, that he was “bleeding from in my pee hole when I cath” for the second day in a row and that the experience was “very painful.”
According to the medical timeline included within the complaint, the prisoner endured nearly two years of medical misfortunes while under the care of the Douglas County jail and continued to suffer until December 2019 when Dr. Chouhan decided to have all of Phelp’s future catheter exchanges conducted at OHSU.
The complaint showed Dr. Chouchan stated, “the patient has had more than one traumatic catheter issue while in his facility. This would be to minimize further trauma to the urethra.”
The lawsuit accuses Douglas County, Wellpath Management Inc., Dr. Steven Blum, and five unnamed medical staff employees of negligence and failing to provide proper medical care under the 14th Amendment.
“While Douglas County incarcerated Mr. Phelps in the Douglas County Jail, he was unable to access any medical care on his own,” the suit stated. “Douglas County had a non-delegable duty to ensure that Mr. Phelps was able to access adequate medical care while he was incarcerated in the Douglas County Jail.”
As a result of the injuries sustained while in custody, the lawsuit said Phelps now requires the permanent fixture of a suprapubic catheter tube to urinate, has suffered continued urinary tract infections, lost all function of his penis for bodily and sexual purposes, and will always need a stomach tube and bladder drainage bag in public.
The total amount in economic damages Phelps is seeking from all defendants is $2.6 Million.
The complaint suggested Phelp’s injuries and trauma could have all been avoided, stating, “Proper standard medical care and training could have prevented the need for Mr. Phelps’ surgeries and the subsequent physical and emotional pain he suffered.”
Since the complaint was filed in late March, the Prisoner Civil Rights case has now been assigned to Judge Karin J. Immergut.
KOIN 6 News reached out to both Douglas County and Wellpath Management Inc. for a statement on the gruesome allegations. A Douglas County representative and a Wellpath Management Inc. spokesperson declined to comment on the pending litigation.
Court documents show Phelps is currently out of prison and staying with his brother.