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On Prison Health, Did State Ask Enough Questions?

The state Department of Corrections failed to require full disclosure of the medical malpractice records of two private prison-health contractors before awarding them billion-dollar contracts, Broward Bulldog reports.

The online news service obtained documents showing the number of claims against Wexford Health Sources and Corizon totaled about 1,600 over the last five years. Nearly half the cases are still open.

The news service reported that Wexford settled 34 cases for a total of $5.4 million, not counting a jury verdict of $270,000. Corizon's payout total was not available, but one case that is part of the public record involved a Lee County inmate who had permanent disability because of delays in getting him to medical treatment while he was suffering from a spinal abscess.

In 2011, a jury found Corizon responsible and awarded the man $1.2 million, including $500,000 in punitive damages.

A spokeswoman for the prison agency said officials' review of the contractors was "comprehensive."

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.