By Christopher Zoukis Litigation over healthcare concerns in Riverside County (California) jails was settled in the last week of October, with a view of dramatically
It reads like a headline from the 19th century: “Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners Could Soon End in New York.” But this headline appeared just two short weeks
By C. Clagett It has been about five weeks since the original Norovirus started in Wake Unit and then spread entirely through the Low Custody
On July 19, 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a grant of summary judgment to three defendants, holding there was sufficient evidence for
America’s prison population is, like the general public, aging rapidly. The wide net cast by the incarceration explosion of the 1980s and 1990s means that the percentage of prisoners needing increased health care has risen dramatically as well. This is particularly true in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which has always had an older population than the national average, due to the profile of the offenders it prosecutes.
Basic Health Care in the Federal Bureau of Prisons
Every inmate entering the Federal Bureau of Prisons is given a general health screening which includes basic blood tests and a consultation (a psychology screening and a dental exam are also provided).
If the inmate is found to be in a generally healthy state, then further medical care is provided only upon request, with the exception of annual tuberculosis testing, which is mandatory. On occasion, an inmate may be called in for random HIV and other disease testing programs. Those deemed generally healthy are directed to use the sick call/triage program to access health care, as explained below.
Chronic Care in Federal Prison
Some inmates enter the Federal Bureau of Prisons with chronic health conditions, or develop them during their incarceration. For these inmates, they are assigned a “care level” commensurate with the care required. They will be seen regularly and monitored accordingly.
By ACLU Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit unanimously ruled that the American Civil Liberties Union and the Prison Law Office
The National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC), which provides accreditation for medical services in prisons, jails and other correctional facilities, held its national conference in Nashville, Tennessee from October 28 to 30, 2013.
PLN managing editor Alex Friedmann attended the conference and sat in on several presentations that addressed the issue of telemedicine in the correctional setting. Telemedicine involves medical consultations over a remote connection, typically with a patient speaking with a physician or other medical practitioner on a video screen.
The first NCCHC conference session on telemedicine was conducted by Lawrence Mendel, a physician and acting medical director at the Leavenworth Detention Center, a facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America.
According to Mendel, the first prison telemedicine program began in 1978 at the South Florida Reception Center in conjunction with Jackson Memorial Hospital. The use of telemedicine expanded during the 1990s and it is now used in a variety of settings to provide long-distance medical evaluations and diagnoses.
Following a competitive bidding war between California state mental hospitals and state prisons, both seeking psychiatrists to treat their mentally ill patients, the prison system has emerged as the winner – largely due to a federal court order to improve prisoner mental health care. However, the term “winner” is misleading because it is both patients at understaffed state mental hospitals and California taxpayers who turned out to be the losers.
The federal district court in the long-running Coleman case [Coleman v. Schwarzenegger, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Cal.), Case No. CIV S-90-0520 LKK JFM P] found that a major cause of understaffing at California prison mental health facilities – understaffing that was tied to excessive and preventable prisoner deaths – was the inadequate wages offered under then-existent state pay schedules, which made it hard to attract qualified psychiatrists.
There was not a long line at the unemployment office in California for out-of-work psychiatrists, however, so the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) had to try to entice such gainfully employed professionals away from their comfortable city offices where clients were able to walk in, to stark prison environments where their patients were violent criminals. In December 2006 the district court ordered the state to boost the wages for prison psychiatrists, which jumped from a monthly base pay of $13,311 to $24,267 for chief psychiatrists – an 82% increase. State mental hospitals were not included in the order.
Consequently, the CDCR wound up offering prison psychiatrists higher wages than psychiatrists employed in state mental hospitals – causing the latter to jump ship from hospitals to prisons to partake of the increased salaries. Predictably, this had a devastating effect on staffing levels in state mental hospitals. In fact, at least two patient suicides were linked to the vastly increased patient-to-staff ratios at the hospitals; one of those deaths resulted in a lawsuit and a $975,000 settlement with the state.