Doctor shortage at CA state prison Sacramento hurts care

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article147241644.htmlInvestigators can’t say for sure that poor medical care contributed to the death of an inmate with a common heart condition at a high-security prison east of Sacramento last year, but the overworked system that ignored him didn’t help.

The inmate diagnosed with coronary artery disease died several months after he ran out of pills from his prescription for a cholesterol drug. He did not get a refill, and he did not see a doctor in the eight months he spent at California State Prison, Sacramento.

A summary of the unidentified inmate’s death is included in the latest report by a state inspector general calling attention to “inadequate” health services at a prison with a difficult population of 2,400 inmates that sits next door to Folsom State Prison.

The new report, released in late March by the state Office of Inspector General, faulted a “critical shortage” of doctors at the prison and a “seemingly unprecedented ability to recruit and retain” primary care providers.

Doctors there “complained that current work conditions were unsustainable, and many were actively looking for employment elsewhere,” the report says.

When you put all of these factors together, when doctors choose to work in a state prison facility, they have other places that might be more attractive.

According to the report, medical staff at the prison struggled to respond quickly to emergencies, properly review medical records, maintain oversight of inmates receiving opioid-based medication and arrange medical appointments for new inmates.

The report was published as most California prisons are showing marked improvement in the medical services they provide. A court-appointed federal receivership took control of prison health care in 2006. Since 2015, the federal program has returned 11 prisons to state management because they’re consistently providing better care.

More prisons are expected to leave the federal receivership this year because their services now are rated as “adequate,” said Joyce Hayhoe, a spokeswoman for the receivership.

The audit was based primarily on reviews of records between July and September 2016. It noted that the prison had several projects underway that could contribute to better care in the future, such as construction of a new primary care clinic for patients with serious mental health diagnoses, renovation of other clinics and development of a new central health services building. Read the full article here…