STATE PRISONS: 650 Inmates Need Retesting After Lab Scandal
Since the July public disclosure that B.C.L. Clinical Labs of Santa Fe Springs fabricated medical test results four years ago for inmates in California state prisons, at least 650 prison inmates still need retesting for AIDS and other diseases, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. In 1996, B.C.L. Clinical Labs halted operations after state inspectors discovered that the company was fabricating medical test results for California's prison inmates. This July, a Chronicle investigation uncovered the scandal. Since then, the Department of Corrections has ordered medical staff members to "hand-search the medical records of all 162,000 inmates ... in the state's prisons" to see which prisoners were housed in a facility that used B.C.L's services. Terry Thornton, a spokesperson for the Corrections Department, said that more than 4,000 inmates were tested by B.C.L. before it closed its doors in 1996, but "most inmates were retested within the past four years or ... there was no medical need to retest." Of those retested thus far, none turned up with unexpected illnesses. However, Thornton said that at least 650 inmates have not received repeat "critical tests" such as Pap smears for cervical cancer and screenings for HIV, hepatitis and other infectious diseases.
Prison rights advocates fear that the scandal will affect the public at large because inmates, when they finish their sentences, may return to their families with false diagnoses. Cynthia Chandler, director of the Women's Positive Legal Action Network in Oakland, said, "Negligent care of prisoners affects not only their health, but the health of their communities" (Russell, 9/12).