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Survey Summary: Inmate Health Care and Communicable Diseases

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 35 Issue: 4 Dated: Winter 2010 Pages: 14-37
Cece Hill
Susan L. Clayton
Date Published
24 pages
This summary of 2009 survey responses from 44 U.S. correctional systems regarding health care costs and services for inmates focuses on specialized services for elderly and female inmates and treatment for various communicable diseases.
The respondents reported actual expenditures of $4.38 billion for inmate medical care. For 39 of the reporting systems, the average amount spent per inmate was $4,940. All of the reporting systems offered on-site OB/GYN services for female inmates, as well as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and diabetes treatment, dental care, and dialysis. Specialized services for elderly inmates (age 55 and older) ranged from a low of 2 percent in Georgia to highs of 17.2 percent in West Virginia (for inmates older than 50), and 26.28 percent in Oregon (for those older than 46). Although there were low percentages of inmates considered terminally ill among responding systems, specialized services were provided for their care. Hospice was offered in the vast majority of the reporting systems, along with palliative care and transfers to an infirmary or hospital when required. Thirty-four systems tested for HIV/AIDS at intake; 33 systems tested at an inmate's request; 36 systems tested at a physician's request; and only 2 systems provided random testing. Although many of the systems could not determine the number of hepatitis B vaccinations they administered, all but one system tested at intake; 28 tested at an inmate's request; 38 tested at a physician's request; and 33 systems tested when risk factors were present. The percentage of active cases of tuberculosis among total inmate populations was negligible to nonexistent; however, testing for the disease was conducted at some point in each of the systems. Syphilis testing was conducted by 40 of the systems, and 38 of the systems tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia. 9 tables