Some of the worst Indian Health Service (IHS) hospitals in the country are in South Dakota. The Rosebud and Pine Ridge Indian Reservations’ IHS facilities have had some of the most notorious problems and deplorable conditions, including significant misdiagnoses, patient suicide, improper or nonexistent sterilization of medical instruments, and even incorrect amputations. Sadly, in many ways, the care provided in certain IHS facilities is not far different from the medical care offered in developing and third-word countries.
What does all this mean for Native Americans in South Dakota? Although IHS-provided healthcare is not wholly responsible, the median life expectancy for Native Americans in South Dakota is a full 21 years shorter than the state-wide median life expectancy.
Until major reforms to the Indian Health Service are made at the federal level, Native Americans’ primary remedy for injuries sustained in IHS facilities is through the Federal Tort Claims process.
You can learn more about the problems in the IHS here: https://www.argusleader.com/in-depth/news/2018/12/05/south-dakota-health-care-ihs-hospital-native-american-trust-violated/1728819002/.