Every culture and clinical setting has a unique language. Correctional nursing is no exception. Drop into a jail medical unit on a new assignment and you may not be able to follow what is going on. The custody environment and unique medical processes make up the majority of challenges. Many of these terms and abbreviations make their way onto medical charts, causing consternation to the uninitiated. Of course, terms and abbreviations can be regional and/or specific to the facility or state system. I consult all over the country and still need to clarify when an unfamiliar word crops into the conversation. If you are new to correctional nursing, jumpstart your orientation by getting to know these primary terms.
BOP: Bureau of Prisons
CO/Officer: Custody Officer: Never refer to officers as guards – very bad form. When known, use rank such as Sargent or Corporal as a sign of respect. Most custody organizations use military rank systems.
DOC: Department of Corrections
I/M: Inmate, prisoner, the patient
Ad Seg/SHU: Administrative Segregation/Special Housing Unit/Security Housing Unit. Special protective housing or special restrictive housing with less access to or by other inmates. These areas can also isolate inmates from services offered in the general population.
Barracks/Block/Dorm/Pod/Tier: Many names for general population inmate housing areas.
Food Flap/Hatch/Wicket: Knee-level hinged opening in cell door for food delivery and limited access exchanges such as medication administration.
GenPop/Pop/GP: The majority of inmates are in general housing areas without any special protection or accommodations.
SNU: Special Needs Unit. Often a mental health protective unit, this is another restricted area with less access to general facility services but higher levels of specialized accommodations.
Hooch/pruno: Cell-made alcohol from fermented available foods, often fruits.
Shank: Knive created from commonly available materials.
Chronic Care Clinic: Regularly scheduled appointments to evaluate chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Mostly physician appointments but may be a nurse appointment for patient education and medication compliance if the condition is stable.
DOT/Watch-Take: Direct-Observation-Therapy. Medications given in pill line/med line where the inmate is observed taking the medication for compliance and diversion issues.
KOP/On-Person: Keep On Person – medication given to the inmate for self administration. Reserved for low-risk therapies and medications not deemed of high value in the prison black market.
Kite/Slip/Request: A written request for medical services. Nurses may tell inmates to ‘Drop a Slip’ or ‘Drop a Kite’ to obtain an appointment for an evaluation. Requests are triaged based on urgency for the next available appointment.
Med line/Pill line: Medication delivery process. Can take place in the medical unit, in this case inmates are escorted and lined up in a secure area. Can take place in the housing area, in this case a nurse roles the cart to the housing area and inmates line up for medications.
Sick Call: Regularly scheduled access to a nurse or physician. Nurse sick call is usually the first access. A physician appointment is made based on nurse evaluation. Nurses are often able to provide OTC medications based on sick call assessment and pre-approved protocols.
You can find more abbreviations and terms on the Shoptalk page of this blog. Do you have some additions to our list? Help out our newbie readers by listing them in the comments section of this post.