2018 was a great year for JailMedicine! Noteworthy events from the year include:
I introduced a new feature–Sample Guidelines–which turned out to be very popular. I intend to add many more sample guidelines this year. Please let me know what guidelines you would like to see!
I began a new blog on MedPage Today entitled “Doing Time: Healthcare Behind Bars” (found here) that introduces our world of Correctional Medicine to outside medical professionals who have no idea what we do. This has also been well read.
Readership increased substantially in 2018. This may be because I published more articles . . . Thank you to everyone who read JailMedicine this year!
Without further ado, these are the five most read articles from 2018:
I was given the opportunity to create a tutorial of the classic method of lancing an abscess when a friend of mine came to my office with a great cutaneous abscess on his back. This has been, by far, the most read JailMedicine article of all time.
Microdermal implants are so common as to be ubiquitous. Almost all of th jewels can be unscrewed from the base, which is my preferred way to deal with them in a jail setting. However, occasionally, patients want to have the implant removed entirely. It is not hard, but many practitioners have never done it and so do not know how.
I have a confession to make. I no longer (usually) incise and drain abscesses in the manner that I taught on the photographic tutorial above. My dermatologist friend and colleague, Neelie Berlin, showed me this nifty technique that uses a 4mm punch biopsy tool It is quicker, easier and just as effective for the majority of uncomplicated skin abscesses you will see in your clinics. You just have to order the punch biopsy tool!
Scabies is so common in jails that every jail medical professional should know how to recognize this itchy little pest. It is not too hard as this post points out. Also, It turns out that treating scabies with oral ivermectin is less expensive and easier than using topical permethrin cream.
Many seemingly benign medications are commonly diverted and abused in correctional facilities. The risk of abuse for some of them so overwhelms any potential benefits of these drugs that I argue that they should rarely be used in jails and prisons.
What was your favorite post from JailMedicine? What should I address in future articles? Please comment!
This clinical guideline is intended to be used as a template to help clinicians and administrators create their own policies. This sample guideline must be modified to make it applicable to each unique correctional facility. This guideline is not intended to apply to all patients. Practitioners should use their clinical judgement for individual patients.
Introduction. Occasionally, inmates who have been assigned the top bunk of a bunk bed state that they have a medical condition that requires them to be given the bottom bunk instead. Since medical providers must be fair and consistent, it is important to differentiate medical need for a low bunk from requests made for non-medical reasons such as a desire for convenience or as a sign of increased status.
Medical need. Medical need for a low bunk generally falls into one of two categories: Patients who are unable to safely climb onto the top bunk because of physical limitations and patients who have a medical condition that might lead them to fall off of the top bunk and injure themselves.
Patients who are unable to safely climb onto the top bunk because of physical limitations include:
- Obesity (BMI >30)
- Advanced age and/or infirmity
- Late term pregnancy.
- Permanent physical disabilities, such as amputations, paralysis, or previous strokes.
- Temporary physical disabilities such as a broken bone or recent surgery.
Patients who have a medical condition that might lead them to fall off of the top bunk include:
- Seizure disorders which are current and ongoing.
- Conditions causing vertigo or dizziness, such as Meniere’s disease.
- Conditions which impair coordination such as cerebral palsy.
Chronic pain syndromes independent of other conditions such as those listed above generally do not constitute a medical need for a bottom bunk assignment.
Patients who have been successfully using a top bunk generally do not have a medical need for a bottom bunk reassignment unless their medical condition has acutely changed, such as with a traumatic injury. Example. A patient has been using a top bunk for three weeks. Now he comes to medical stating that there are several bottom bunks available in his pod. He would like medical to approve a bunk reassignment for him because of an old leg injury. The fact that he has been using a top bunk for three weeks indicates that this patient does not have a legitimate medical need for a bottom bunk.
Nursing Personnel may address routine patient requests for low bed assignments based on this guideline. If nursing personnel are unsure or have questions, they may refer the patient to a medical practitioner.
Documentation. Security personnel assign bunks, not medical personnel. Medical personnel are being asked if a patient has a medical need for a low bunk assignment. Therefore, medical personnel should document the answer to this question only.
Incorrect: “Bottom bunk request is not approved.” Correct: “This patient does not have a medical need for a bottom bunk assignment.”
Incorrect: “Bottom bunk is approved for medical reasons.” (Security staff may elect to place the patient on a single bed, a cot, or a floor “boat” instead of a bottom bunk.)
Correct: “This patient should not be assigned a top bunk for medical reasons.”
If a patient does have a legitimate medical need for a low bunk assignment, consideration should also be paid to the patient’s other housing needs. For example, a low bunk may not actually meet the patient’s needs; the patient may need a hospital bed. Patients who have a medical need for a low bunk assignment may need to be restricted to a bottom tier so that they will not have to climb stairs. Patients who are inmate workers may need work restrictions. If the medical need for a low bunk assignment is temporary (such as a broken arm), the bottom bunk memo should have a time limit.
Sample guidelines can be found under the “Guidelines” tab (above) as they are published. I view these sample guidelines as a group effort! If you have a suggestion, critique or simply a better way to phrase some concept, say so in comments!