Eighth Amendment of Deliberate Indifference
In Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), the Supreme Court held that
“deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the ‘unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain,’ proscribed by the Eighth Amendment.”
Id.at 104 (citation omitted).
But the court cautioned that
a complaint that a physician has been negligent in diagnosing or
treating a medical condition does not state a valid claim of medical
mistreatment under the Eight Amendment.
Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is prisoner. In order to state a cognizable claim, a prisoner must allege acts or omissions sufficiently harmful to evidence deliberate indifference to serious medical needs. It is only such indifference that can offend “evolving standards of decency” in violation of the Eight Amendment.
Id. at 106 (emphasis added); accord Hudson v. McMillian, 503 U.S. 1, 9 (1992) (“Because society does not expect that prisoners will have unqualified access to health care, deliberate indifference to medical needs amounts to an Eighth Amendment violation only if those needs are ‘serious.'” (citing Gamble, 429 U.S. at 103-104) (dictum). Furthermore, a prison official is deliberately indifferent to a prisoner’s serious medical needs only when “the official knows of and disregards an excessive risk to inmate health or safety; the official must both be aware of facts from which the inference could be drawn that a substantial risk of serious harm exists, and he must also draw the inference.” Reeves v. Collins, 27 F.3d 174, 176 (5th Cir. 1994) (per curiam) (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 837 (1994)