On my last post, I began a series discussing how Correctional Medicine is different from medicine in the “outside world.” The first (and arguably the most important difference) is that medicine inside corrections has to be fair, whereas the bigger world of US medicine is not fair.
The second big difference between Correctional Medicine and outside medicine is this: Every clinical encounter in correctional medicine is discussed back in the housing dorm. This does not occur in outside medicine and is critically important to understanding doctor-patient relationships in corrections.
For those not familiar with the housing situation in jails and prisons, most inmates are housed in large housing dorms or pods. Depending on the size of the institution, these can house anywhere from 10 inmates to over a hundred. As you might expect from this situation, inmates spend a lot of time talking with each other, especially since they generally have more free time than your average person in the outside world. Inmates spend a lot of time talking to one another.
So when an inmate returns to the dorm from a visit to the medical clinic, it is natural for the encounter to be discussed. If the encounter was unusual or noteworthy in any way, this quickly becomes known throughout the pod. And since different housing pods also communicate with each other, information about clinical encounters quickly spreads throughout the entire institution. Continue reading