The Federal Bureau of Prisons has contracted with the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) to provide accreditation services at the 122 BOP institutions that provide medical, dental and mental health services to prisoners. The AAAHC was founded in 1979 and according to its website is “the leader in ambulatory health care accreditation with…

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By Christopher Zoukis The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled on October 12, 2016 that a two-month delay in ordering a biopsy of a prisoner’s potentially cancerous masses did not constitute deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. Calvin Whiting was incarcerated at the Shawnee Correctional Center in Vienna, Illinois in October 2010…

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by Christopher Zoukis An infectious outbreak at an immigration detention facility in Pinal County, Arizona operated by CoreCivic (formerly known as CCA) resulted in over 20 people contracting measles. The outbreak was discovered in May 2016 when one detainee and an employee at the Eloy Detention Center tested positive for measles. Within two weeks, 16…

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Federal inmates arriving at Bureau of Prisons facilities from areas affected by the Zika virus are not routinely tested for the transmissible disease before joining the general prison population, notes a recent USA Today article that examined Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) documents included interviews with agency staff. The paper noted hundreds of federal prisoners…

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By David Reutter The Third Circuit Court of Appeals held on August 26, 2013 that a judge may resolve factual disputes relevant to the exhaustion of administrative remedies without the participation of a jury. It also held the district court had erred in finding a failure to exhaust where a prisoner did not receive a…

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By Greg Dober

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a blood-borne virus that is typically spread through intravenous drug use (i.e., sharing needles), tattooing with non-sterile needles, and sharing razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers or other hygiene items that may be exposed to blood. It is often a chronic disease and, if left untreated, can lead to severe liver damage.

Recent good news in the battle against HCV, in the form of two new drugs that are highly effective in eliminating the virus, is tempered by the fact that the companies that produce the drugs have priced them at $60,000 to $80,000 per 12-week course of treatment. This high cost prices the medications beyond the reach of most prison and jail systems – which is especially troubling considering that a substantial number of prisoners are infected with HCV.

The new drugs, approved by the FDA in late 2013, are simeprevir, branded as Olysio and manufactured by Janssen Therapeutics (a Johnson & Johnson company), and sofosbuvir, branded as Sovaldi and manufactured by Gilead Sciences. Based on clinical trials, Sovaldi has an 84-96% cure rate while Olysio has an 80-85% cure rate. Both drugs are used in combination with other HCV anti-viral medications, peginterferon alfa and/or ribavirin, and their cure rates vary depending on HCV genotype – specific variations of the virus.

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By Christopher Zoukis

America’s prison population is, like the general public, aging rapidly.  The wide net cast by the incarceration explosion of the 1980s and 1990s means that the percentage of prisoners needing increased health care has risen dramatically as well.  This is particularly true in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which has always had an older population than the national average, due to the profile of the offenders it prosecutes.

Basic Health Care in the Federal Bureau of Prisons

Every inmate entering the Federal Bureau of Prisons is given a general health screening which includes basic blood tests and a consultation (a psychology screening and a dental exam are also provided).

If the inmate is found to be in a generally healthy state, then further medical care is provided only upon request, with the exception of annual tuberculosis testing, which is mandatory.  On occasion, an inmate may be called in for random HIV and other disease testing programs.  Those deemed generally healthy are directed to use the sick call/triage program to access health care, as explained below.

Chronic Care in Federal Prison

Some inmates enter the Federal Bureau of Prisons with chronic health conditions, or develop them during their incarceration.  For these inmates, they are assigned a “care level” commensurate with the care required.  They will be seen regularly and monitored accordingly.

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