Health System Problems Persist at Sacramento Main Jail; Officials To Seek Accreditation
Problems with access to health care, medical record keeping, prescription drug management and staff accountability at Sacramento Main Jail "have been laid out repeatedly in inspections and reports since the jail lost its medical accreditation in 2001," according to an investigation by the Sacramento Bee.
Although a December 2003 inspection found improvements to the prison's health system after it was placed under control of the sheriff's department, problems persist, according to the Bee. The report found "an array of shortcomings that would prevent the jail from earning the voluntary medical accreditation achieved by about half the jails in California," the Bee reports.
Inmates have filed 90 claims alleging insufficient medical care, improper care or negligence at Main Jail since 2000. Fifty-five of the claims were rejected by Sacramento County as unfounded, and 35 are awaiting resolution, according to the county Risk Management Office.
Prison officials said they plan to pursue accreditation, but the jail's pharmacy system and blood and DNA collection methods first must be reformed.
Nurses at the jail's pharmacy use bulk containers of pills and maintain records with pen and paper -- a system called "inadequate" in the 2003 report. John O'Shaughnessy, chief of Correctional Health Services at the county Sheriff's Department, said staff members are looking into establishing computerizing medical records at the prison.
In addition, the 2003 report said it was inappropriate for nurses to collect blood and DNA from patients that also could be used as forensic evidence. O'Shaughnessy said the department is considering contracting with an outside company to provide such services (Jewett/Korber, Sacramento Bee, 12/18).