The place of medicine in the American prison: ethical issues in the treatment of offenders.
In Britain doctors and others concerned with the treatment of offenders in prison may consult the Butler Report (see Focus, pp 157) and specialist journals, but these sources are concerned with the system in Britain only. In America the situation is different, both in organization and in certain attitudes. Dr Peter L Sissons has therefore provided a companion article to that of Dr Paul Bowden (page 163) describing the various medical issues in prisons. The main difference between the treatment of offenders in prisons in America and in Britain lies in the nature of the federal system which means that each state may operate a different system in a variety of prisons and prison medical services are as various. Nationally, the prison systems are 'structured to treat and cure the offender'. Therefore it follows that the prison medical officer is only one of the professionals concerned with this 'cure' of the offender. This principle also applies to any form of research: medical research in prisons is part of a programme which covers a wide field of social and judicial research. The prison medical officer (where there is one) has of course to look after sick prisoners, and the American idea of 'cure' is also expressed in the need for more corrective surgery where, for example, it is necessary to remove physical impediments to social rehabilitation. But a doctor is only found on the staff of those institutions which are large: in the smaller prisons there may be only first-aid facilities, and no specially appointed doctor in the community. Moreover medicines are often dispensed by medical auxiliaries who are sometimes prisoners themselves. Finally, in America prisoners are regularly invited to volunteer as subjects for medical and social research for which they are paid. In short, although it is hoped to 'cure' a prisoner he is a criminal first and a patient second. (+info)
Use of out-of-plan services by Medicare members of HIP.
Use of out-of-plan services in 1972 by Medicare members of the Health Insurance Plan of Greater New York (HIP) is examined in terms of the demographic and enrollment characteristics of out-of-plan users, types of services received outside the plan, and the relationship of out-of-plan to in-plan use. Users of services outside the plan tended to be more seriously ill and more frequently hospitalized than those receiving all of their services within the plan. The costs to the SSA of providing medical care to HIP enrollees are compared with analogous costs for non-HIP beneficiaries, and the implications for the organization and financing of health services for the aged are discussed. (+info)
Why do patients seek family physicians' services for cold symptoms?
OBJECTIVE: To examine the frequency of presentation to family physicians' offices for cold symptoms, the reasons for presentation, and the duration of symptoms before presentation. DESIGN: Prospective cross-sectional survey. PARTICIPANTS: One hundred consecutive patient encounters in each of 15 family practices from January 27 to February 3, 1994, involving both academic and non-academic family physicians in the London region. Data were collected prospectively using a checklist attached to each chart. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Proportion of patients presenting with cold symptoms, reasons for presentation, number of days patients had had symptoms, billing code. RESULTS: A total of 1421 checklists were analyzed, 822 from academic practices and 599 from community practices. Proportion of presentations for cold symptoms was 14.8%, but visits coded as common cold represented 5.7%. Median number of days patients waited before presentation was 7.0; older patients tended to wait longer. Many patients were worried about developing complications (51.0%) or were fed up with their symptoms (31.9%). Most patients were between the ages of 20 and 64 (44.6%), and 57.6% of all patients had developed complications requiring treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The proportion of visits coded as common cold was lower than Ontario averages. Most patients had complications rather than simple colds and had managed their symptoms on their own for a fairly long time. (+info)
Record linkage as a research tool for office-based medical care.
OBJECTIVE: To explore the feasibility of linking records to study health services and health outcomes for primary care patients. DESIGN: A cohort of patients from the Family Medicine Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital was assembled from the clinic's billing records. Their health numbers were linked to the Ontario Hospital Discharge Database. The pattern of hospital admission rates was investigated using International Classification of Diseases (ICD) codes for primary discharge diagnosis. A pilot case-control study of risk factor management for stroke was nested in the cohort. SETTING: Family medicine clinic based in a teaching hospital. PARTICIPANTS: A cohort of 19,654 Family Medicine Centre patients seen at least once since 1991. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Admission rates by age, sex, and diagnosis. Numbers of admissions for individual patients, time to readmission, and length of stay. Odds ratios for admission for cerebrovascular disease. RESULTS: The 19,654 patients in the cohort had 14,299 discharges from Ontario hospitals in the 4 years from 1992 to 1995, including 3832 discharges following childbirth. Some patients had many discharges: 4816 people accounted for the 10,467 admissions excluding childbirth. Excluding transfers between institutions, there were 4975 readmissions to hospital during the 4 years, 1392 (28%) of them within 28 days of previous discharge. Admissions for mental disorders accounted for the greatest number of days in hospital. The pilot study of risk factor management suggested that acetylsalicylic acid therapy might not be effective for elderly primary care patients with atrial fibrillation and that calcium channel blocker therapy might be less effective than other therapies for preventing cerebrovascular disease in hypertensive primary care patients. CONCLUSIONS: Record linkage combined with data collection by chart review or interview is a useful method for studying the effectiveness of medical care in Canada and might suggest interesting hypotheses for further investigation. (+info)
Stress and morale in general practice: a comparison of two health care systems.
BACKGROUND: Poor morale and high levels of stress among general practitioners (GPs) are causing concern. Little research has previously been carried out to study possible differences in morale and stress between GPs working in two different but geographically similar health care systems. AIM: To compare perceived levels of stress and morale between GPs working in two different health care systems--one having a state monopoly (Northern Ireland) and the other having mixed private and state funding (Republic of Ireland)--and to look for factors that might help explain any differences in stress levels and morale between the two systems. METHOD: Anonymous and confidential questionnaires were sent to all 986 National Health Service (NHS) GPs in Northern Ireland (NI) and a random sample of 900 GPs in the Republic of Ireland (ROI). A common set of core questions on demographic details, partners and work patterns, perceived levels of stress and morale, safety, violence, and complaints were asked. RESULTS: Response rates were high in both areas: 91% in NI and 78% in the ROI. GPs in NI had significantly higher stress levels and significantly lower levels of morale than GPs in the ROI. The NI sample expect matters to get worse over the following year. Doctors in the ROI were more likely to be single handed and to work from two sites. Also, more GPs in ROI had fears for their safety and had been the subject of physical violence, but fewer had received complaints and medico-legal actions than in NI. CONCLUSIONS: A significant proportion of both groups of doctors report feeling highly stressed but GPs in NI appear more unhappy and have a poorer outlook for the future. It is suggested that the structure, management, and expectations of the NHS have taken a severe toll on its GPs, whereas a system in which doctors have less practice support but more control is good for morale. (+info)
What parents think of fever.
OBJECTIVES: We aimed to assess knowledge, perception and management of fever by parents. METHODS: We conducted a questionnaire survey among 392 parents of children attending locally a paediatric clinic at The Royal Oldham Hospital. The main outcome measures were answers to questions covering a variety of aspects of the knowledge, perception and management of fever by parents. RESULTS: Almost half the parents used a liquid crystal forehead thermometer. Most could not use a glass thermometer. Thirty per cent did not know normal body temperature and would have treated children with a temperature below 38 degrees C. Sixty-four per cent treated fever with both paracetamol and tepid sponging. Most parents awakened children at night for antipyretics. Eighty-one per cent thought that untreated fever was most likely to cause fits or brain damage and 7% thought it could cause death. CONCLUSION: Parents perceive fever as being dangerous. They have a poor knowledge and measure it inaccurately. Needless consultations and hospital admissions could be avoided by a change in perception. (+info)
Mental health/medical care cost offsets: opportunities for managed care.
Health services researchers have long observed that outpatient mental health treatment sometimes leads to a reduction in unnecessary or excessive general medical care expenditures. Such reductions, or cost offsets, have been found following mental health treatment of distressed elderly medical inpatients, some patients as they develop major medical illnesses, primary care outpatients with multiple unexplained somatic complaints, and nonelderly adults with alcoholism. In this paper we argue that managed care has an opportunity to capture these medical care cost savings by training utilization managers to make mental health services more accessible to patients whose excessive use of medical care is related to psychological factors. For financial reasons, such policies are most likely to develop within health care plans that integrate the financing and management of mental health and medical/surgical benefits. (+info)
Incidence, outcomes, and cost of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes.
OBJECTIVE: To determine the incidence of foot ulcers in a large cohort of patients with diabetes, the risk of developing serious complications after diagnosis, and the attributable cost of care compared with that in patients without foot ulcers. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Retrospective cohort study of patients with diabetes in a large staff-model health maintenance organization from 1993 to 1995. Patients with diabetes were identified by algorithm using administrative, laboratory, and pharmacy records. The data were used to calculate incidence of foot ulcers, risk of osteomyelitis, amputation, and death after diagnosis of foot ulcer, and attributable costs in foot ulcer patients compared with patients without foot ulcers. RESULTS: Among 8,905 patients identified with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, 514 developed a foot ulcer over 3 years of observation (cumulative incidence 5.8%). On or after the time of diagnosis, 77 (15%) patients developed osteomyelitis and 80 (15.6%) required amputation. Survival at 3 years was 72% for the foot ulcer patients versus 87% for a group of age- and sex-matched diabetic patients without foot ulcers (P < 0.001). The attributable cost for a 40- to 65-year-old male with a new foot ulcer was $27,987 for the 2 years after diagnosis. CONCLUSIONS: The incidence of foot ulcers in this cohort of patients with diabetes was nearly 2.0% per year. For those who developed ulcers, morbidity, mortality, and excess care costs were substantial compared with those for patients without foot ulcers. The results appear to support the value of foot-ulcer prevention programs for patients with diabetes. (+info)