Los Angeles County Inmates Complain of Treatment Delays
The Los Angeles County jails' medical care system is "fraught with serious delays in access to doctors, lapses in prescription renewals and interruptions in treatment for inmates" being transferred, according to a report for the county Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles Times reports. Attorney Merrick Bobb, who monitors the sheriff's department for the board, studied half of the 7,181 inmate complaints received in 1999 and found that the majority of complaints focused on delays in medical treatment. Many said that they had to "make repeated requests" before they were allowed to see a doctor or nurse. Some inmates reported that nurses sometimes "simply refused" requests to see a doctor. In addition, many inmates said that they experienced delays in prescription renewals and dental treatments (Shuster, Los Angeles Times, 1/17). Bobb attributed the delays to "medical understaffing" and problems with "coordination, communication and logistics" (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 1/17). Bobb said that the sheriff's department had been "slow" to implement a new $25 million computer system, which could help eliminate some of the delays. While the report found some "serious" problems, it also said the department is "moving in the right direction." Capt. Marc Klugman, who recently began overseeing the department's medical services, said, "There are certainly some very serious issues in medical services that need to be addressed; some of it procedural, some of it is staffing. It's not fun, it's not comfortable ... (but) they are getting proper care. ... I don't think we've lost anybody because they've sat waiting for a doctor" (Los Angeles Times, 1/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.