This post originally appeared on CorrectionsOne.com
Another year is about to roll up and we can look back on plenty of correctional healthcare news from 2011. What top stories from the past year are most memorable to you? Here are my top picks for 2011 game changers along with suggested action to reduce their impact.
#1 Legal eagles rule the roost
Healthcare is now the most common legal issue raised by inmates according to a Harvard Civil Liberties Law Review article. The legal system has led the way in correctional healthcare reform even before the landmark Estelle v. Gamble Supreme Court case of 1976. In that case, the Supremes ruled that healthcare was a prisoner’s Eighth Amendment right. Continued case law has further delineated that right. Lack of healthcare, inadequate healthcare, faulty or denied healthcare are frequent claims of inmate defendants. Not only are the costs of healthcare skyrocketing, so are the costs of medical liability insurance. The financial burden of defending against spurious and serious claims is high.
Game changer actions: Do everything you can to strengthen the healthcare delivery system to reduce serious medical claims. This means solid communication and tracking of outside services and diagnostics. In addition, monitor medication delivery and formulary practices. Medication administration is a high risk and problem-prone area of correctional healthcare.
Consider implementing basic customer service principles to reduce spurious legal claims. Closely monitor inmate grievances in this sector. Early intervention can stem later legal cases. Remember, even if a claim is invalidated, legal costs can still be incurred in developing a defense.
#2 Cost shifting along the corrections pipeline
Although California is the state prison system most in the news about overcrowding, other states are looking for ways to reduce incarceration costs by shifting custody responsibilities to local jurisdictions or mental health services. From a medical perspective, there are renewed calls for improved compassionate release processes.
Game changer actions: Appropriate early release of severely ill and dying prisoners can reduce prison health care costs but burden other systems such as long term care and indigent care services. A practical review of current compassionate release policies and procedures is warrented.
Read the rest of this list on correctionsone.com
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