Physician’s Failure to Treat Prisoner’s Hepatitis B Did Not Violate Constitution

A physician’s failure to treat a prisoner’s Hepatitis B after receiving the results of a liver biopsy, in spite of previous physician’s recommendation of interferon treatment based on blood test results, constituted a difference of medical opinion but did not rise to the level of deliberate indifference to the prisoner’s medical need. Therefore, the prisoner did not make a valid claim for cruel and unusual punishment by deprivation of basic medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment.


The court held that even if medical malpractice had occurred, this does not equal a Constitutional violation in the absence of a showing that the physician (a) had subjective knowledge of a risk of serious harm but (b) disregarded that risk (c) by conduct that is more than gross negligence. Medical malpractice is judged by an objective standard, i.e. the failure to meet accepted medical practices, while a violation of the Eighth Amendment must be established based on the physician’s subjective state of mind. Loadholt v. Moore, 2012 WL 243489 (S.D.Ga. Jan 25, 2012) (not designated for publication).