Sacramento County Likely To Return Control of County Jail Medical Staff to Sheriff’s Office
Sacramento County officials will likely return control of medical care for prisoners in the county jail to the county Sheriff's Department after a review found a number of problems with a one-year experiment that shifted control to the county Coroner's Office, the Sacramento Bee reports. Under the supervision of the coroner's office, eight inmates have died -- seven of them from suicide -- and prisoners have "routinely missed their medication" or received the incorrect medication, according to internal county memos and interviews with county officials. In addition, a shortage of providers has prompted the county jail to reduce the number of days per week that ill inmates can visit a doctor from seven days to two days and has led to "serious" medication errors. For example, in May, a prisoner received a "high dose of the wrong medication resulting in the inmate's oversedation," according to a memo. County Coroner Paul Smith said the that problem resulted from "human error" and added that the "error was not life-threatening" and led to no "long-term medical problems." One week later, an inmate who did not receive his prescribed anti-seizure medication for two days suffered seizures and had to visit a hospital emergency room for treatment, the Bee reports. The families of two of the inmates who committed suicide have filed lawsuits against the county, and county officials also expect the family of a 26-year-old inmate who died of heart problems after he visited a doctor and nurses in the jail to file suit. Under the terms of the expected transfer of control of the jail's medical staff, which the county Board of Supervisors must approve, the county will shift $28 million from the coroner's office budget to the sheriff's office budget (Stanton, Sacramento Bee, 8/14).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.