A teenager in Minnesota who suffered uncontrollable vomiting and diarrhea due to opioid withdrawal died days after being committed to Clay County Jail.
Nineteen-year-old Abby Rudolph, who was arrested for shoplifting just days before her death, remained untreated in prison for drug withdrawal, although the guards were informed that she was “withdrawing from heroin,” according to inmates.
Rudolph was seen lying for hours on the floor of her prison cell, unable to control her vomiting and diarrhea. This is evident from court records and the prison’s surveillance video, which was reviewed by Minneosta television station KARE 11.
According to KARE 11’s records, the teenager never received any medication to treat her constant vomiting and diarrhea.
“She begged, begged for help, and no compassion was shown to her. Her basic human needs were not respected and what happened was wrong,” said Colin Peterson, a lawyer who represented the family in a federal court case after the incident.
However, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (DOC), which is responsible for county prisons, claimed that the staff at Clay County Jail “appeared to be very compassionate and treated Mrs. Rudolph very professionally.
The DOC investigation reportedly found only one minor infraction, which the DOC claimed was probably unrelated to Rudolph’s death, KARE 11 reported.
The security staff was informed of the teenager’s withdrawal.
After a hip injury in high school, Rudolph became addicted to opioids before turning to heroin. She was sent to Clay County Jail after being arrested for shoplifting at a Menards store in Moorhead on October 30, 2016.
At the time of her arrest, she did not inform any guards or medical staff of her withdrawal.
But on her second night in prison she was “up all night screaming and beating in her sleep,” two inmates wrote in a note to a guard, which also said that Rudolph had told the inmates that she was “withdrawing from heroin.
After being transferred to a separate cell, one guard reportedly saw Rudolph sleeping on the floor of the cell next to her vomit, which was “not too unusual behavior to notice,” since she was coming off drugs, the guard noted in a report.
The guard mentioned Rudolph’s vomiting to a team leader, but according to KARE 11 neither of them sought help for the teenager.
The following day Rudolph was visited by her mother, who said the family could not afford to post bail even though Rudolph asked to go home.
Following her mother’s visit, a nurse from Mend Correctional Care (MEnD), the prison’s health service, asked for Rudolph to be tested for drugs. The teenager told the guard who performed the drug test that she had come down from drugs.
According to the test results, Rudolph tested positive for opioids along with methamphetamine, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and amphetamines. The MEnD nurse ordered Rudolph on a liquid diet but no medication, reported KARE 11.
No medication was administered after the withdrawal assessment
The teenage girl reportedly deteriorated during the day, and surveillance videos showed that she repeatedly vomited during the night.
However, the guards (who were supposed to monitor Rudolph every 15 minutes) never recorded her vomiting on the bulletin boards, according to court testimony, in which the MEnD nurse claimed she did not know how sick Rudolph was because the guards did not document the vomiting episodes.
The teenager received a drug withdrawal assessment from the MEnD nurse on November 2, for which she was rated high enough that she should have called a doctor.
But her score was too low and she was sent back to her cell without any treatment by the nurse, who noted that Rudolph was “starry-eyed” but “attentive and oriented.
The regular 15-minute checks were resumed by the guards, who marked Rudolph “OK” with only a mention of vomit in all the notes that said “gave water, new vomit bag.
The following morning of November 3, their continued vomiting continued, as shown by a surveillance video showing Rudolph using a barf bag eight times between midnight and 7:00 a.m. local time.
Around noon local time, a security guard noticed that the teenage girl had a “catatonic expression