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October 15, 2013

"Louisiana prisons expand inmate medical care through video conferencing"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new article discussing an interesting technocorrections development in the bayou.  Here is how the piece begins:

The Louisiana Department of Corrections has drastically expanded an online medical program in which doctors treat prisoners through video conferencing.

The department plans to take the number of offenders treated by telemedicine from 3,500 to 20,000 in the coming year. The shift is part of Gov. Bobby Jindal's push to privatize state-run hospitals and medical clinics. Inmates traditionally received their more advanced or specialized treatment at those charity facilities.

The Department of Corrections provides primary physician care to offenders on site at state prisons. But officials now use video conferencing and other online services when inmates need to see medical specialists, like cardiologists and neurologists.

For example, an inmate who had recovered from a heart attack or cancer, and only needs routine check-ups to monitor their health, could seek treatment through telemedicine.

Dr. Raman Singh, medical director for the Department of Corrections, said telemedicine is supposed to supplement the traditional patient-doctor encounter. Offenders can go off site for doctor visits if needed, but a larger telemedicine program should cut back on the need for many outside medical trips.

Transporting prisoners to a clinic or hospital can be a complicated affair. Offenders require a secure vehicle and guards to accompany them on the journey, and the travel can also take several hours, since state prisons and medical facilities aren't necessarily near each other. In the case of one north Louisiana facility, offenders, had to make a three-hour round trip every time they needed more than very basic medical attention, said Singh.

Singh knows telemedicine works because LSU has been running an online doctor-offender program in south Louisiana facilities for years. Starting this month, Texas-based US Telehealth is providing online medical care to state prisons in central and north Louisiana, helping to cover the state's whole correctional system. The LSU School of Medicine had wanted to operate the prison contract statewide, but US Telehealth offered a better prices for its services, prompting the Department of Corrections to sign a partial system contract with the company.

October 15, 2013 at 05:58 PM | Permalink

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Comments

Very good. A no brainer. A nurse on site can perform any hands on procedure needed for routine medical care.

I would add the encounter should be recorded. The recording should serve as the sole record, saving more record making and keeping costs. If people do not want to review the entire recording to find out what was done, they can ask the doctor to spend one more minute to review the encounter once ended. "Today, we found, 1..., 2..., 3.... We will do the following, 1..., 2..., 3..." People can then turn to the last minute of the recording. Also staff and patient can ask to watch the recording as many times as it takes to understand what is being done. If a malpractice claim arises, all parties can view the real world encounter.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 16, 2013 12:07:58 AM

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