Beyond the Bars: Hospital Care Team Safety & Security

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Valuable Safety Tips for Medical Professionals Treating Prison Patients

Hospital care team safety and security is important in any medical center, but when handling prisoners or inmates, the threat level increases, and so should your awareness. Earlier this month we brought a best practice that was geared toward law enforcement bringing inmates into healthcare facilities. It outlined ways for law enforcement to be proactive and help guarantee safety for all involved. Today we want to give hospital care team safety and security tips for interacting with prisoners in a healthcare facility.

Here are 8 ways that medical staff can keep themselves and other patients safe while tending to prisoners’ medical needs.

  • Always let the on duty security officer for the facility know that a prisoner is on property and in care. The law enforcement officer should do this prior to arriving with the inmate, but keeping security informed on the inmate’s whereabouts and status is critical.
  • When scheduling a prisoner for a follow-up visit, or for an outpatient procedure, make sure there are no other prisoners scheduled for that time frame. No 2 prisoners should be scheduled at the same time on any given day. Also, if a follow-up appointment is necessary, the detention facility should call to schedule the appointment; the appointment should not be made by the attending law enforcement officer.
  • Never provide any information by phone to non-medical center staff, this includes a prisoner’s family. If families of inmates need to be notified, the law enforcement officer will ensure they are contacted in timely manner, but it is not the job of medical professionals.
  • If outside inquiries are made, referring to an inmate in care, notify security and accompanying law enforcement immediately. hospital care team safety
  • The location of the prisoner should not be known to anyone other than security and pertinent medical staff, if their location becomes known, the prisoner should be transferred to another unit, bed or room within the same unit, or another hospital. The location of the inmate is classified, if it becomes known, the consequences could be life-threatening.
  • Do not tell prisoners timeframes, it becomes a security concern. Even if they ask, prisoners should not know or be told when they will leave a room next, how long a test might take, or what the next step in an exam is.
  • Before seeing a prison patient, remove your ID badge, jewelry and patient care equipment (stethoscope, scissors, etc.). Never tell a prison patient your name and remove anything that could be used for harm on your person and in the room, before they are brought in.
  • Address inmates by their name, if you do not know it, address them as Mr. or Ms. Speak in a professional tone and do not engage in small talk or exchange pleasantries. Doing so may give them critical information about the world around them.

Although they are a patients, inmates are treated unlike any other patient you will encounter, as such, the protocol for conversation and safety takes on a new life. Keep these tips in mind the next time you are assigned to work with a prison patient. Let us know your prison patient safety tips by leaving a comment.

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