Autopsy released for inmate that died in Lee County Jail’s medical ward

Published: January 14, 2022 5:36 PM EST
Updated: January 18, 2022 12:16 PM EST

A Lee County Jail inmate that died in the jail’s hospital ward died because of a bacterial infection that spread throughout his heart caused by intravenous drug abuse.

An autopsy report confirmed what killed Michael Carbone last November.

Retired cardiac surgeon Dr. Thomas Berger broke down Carbone’s autopsy for WINK News and said Carbone’s heart was in bad shape.

“The other valves were also infected,” Berger said. “The inside of the heart was also infected. They saw vegetations, so it was not a good situation.”

Berger said Carbone needed top-of-the-line care.

“The treatment would start with heavy-duty intravenous antibiotics and in his case, ultimately, he would have needed at least a tricuspid valve replaced,” Berger said. “He would have needed a team of cardiologists, cardiac surgeon, infectious disease, yes, he would have needed extensive care.”

It’s unclear what kind of treatment Carbone received while in custody.

The autopsy only cited evidence of an airway tube, defibrillator pads and a catheter. There were no mention of antibiotics in his system.

Carbone spent six days in the jail’s medical ward, where he died.

He was never referred to the hospital.

“Had they referred him, generally speaking, there’s a 25% or so chances of survival,” Berger said. “Had they listened for a murmur they would have heard one. If they looked for a fever, he would have had one. They could have put that together, ideally, and referred him for treatment, which he might have survived, but I’m not prepared to say that he would to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.”

Michael Carbone’s father Paul said his son did not receive proper care at the jail facility.

For Paul, the autopsy report confirms what he already knew about his son’s death.

“That he had an infection and needed to go to the hospital,” Paul said.

Berger said there’s a chance Michael Carbone could have survived.

That “could have” is what Paul can’t get out of his mind.

“No one will ever know if going to the hospital is going to save somebody’s life but if you don’t take them to the hospital it is guaranteed that they’re not going to live their life or even have a chance to live their life,” Paul said.

In a news conference in November, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said inmates receive top-of-the-line care inside the Lee County Jail Medical Ward.

Paul said his son suffered from that same bacterial infection in his heart eight months before he died and received antibiotics at the hospital. He said he doesn’t think that happened at the jail.