Medical practice: defendants and prisoners. (1/986)

It is argued in this paper that a doctor cannot serve two masters. The work of the prison medical officer is examined and it is shown that his dual allegiance to the state and to those individuals who are under his care results in activities which largely favour the former. The World Health Organisation prescribes a system of health ethics which indicates, in qualitative terms, the responsibility of each state for health provisions. In contrast, the World Medical Association acts as both promulgator and guardian of a code of medical ethics which determines the responsibilities of the doctor to his patient. In the historical sense medical practitioners have always emphasized the sanctity of the relationship with their patients and the doctor's role as an expert witness is shown to have centered around this bond. The development of medical services in prisons has focused more on the partnership between doctor and institution. Imprisonment in itself could be seen as prejudicial to health as are disciplinary methods which are more obviously detrimental. The involvement of medical practitioners in such procedures is discussed in the light of their role as the prisoner's personal physician.  (+info)

The place of medicine in the American prison: ethical issues in the treatment of offenders. (2/986)

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)

Mortality among homeless shelter residents in New York City. (3/986)

OBJECTIVES: This study examined the rates and predictors of mortality among sheltered homeless men and women in New York City. METHODS: Identifying data on a representative sample of shelter residents surveyed in 1987 were matched against national mortality records for 1987 through 1994. Standardized mortality ratios were computed to compare death rates among homeless people with those of the general US and New York City populations. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine predictors of mortality within the homeless sample. RESULTS: Age-adjusted death rates of homeless men and women were 4 times those of the general US population and 2 to 3 times those of the general population of New York City. Among homeless men, prior use of injectable drugs, incarceration, and chronic homelessness increased the likelihood of death. CONCLUSIONS: For homeless shelter users, chronic homelessness itself compounds the high risk of death associated with disease/disability and intravenous drug use. Interventions must address not only the health conditions of the homeless but also the societal conditions that perpetuate homelessness.  (+info)

An evaluation of "informed consent" with volunteer prisoner subjects. (4/986)

"Informed consent" sets a goal for investigators experimenting with human subjects, but little is known about how to achieve or evaluate it in an experiment. In a 3-year, double-blind study with incarcerated men, we attempted to provide a "free and informed consent" and evaluated our efforts with an unannounced questionnaire administered to subjects after they completed the experiment. At that time, approximately two-thirds had sufficient information for an informed consent, but only one-third was well informed about all key aspects of the experiment and one-third was insufficiently informed to give an informed consent. We found that institution- or study-based coercion was minimal in our experiment. From our evaluation of the questionnaire and experience at the study institution, we conclude that an experiment with human subjects should be designed to include an ongoing evaluation of informed consent, and active attempts should be made to avoid or minimize coercive inducements. Experiments with significant risk, which require a long duration and/or large sample size relative to the institution's population, should probably not be performed on prisoner subjects. The experimenter should be independent of the penal institution's power structure. Presenting and explaining a consent form to volunteers on one occasion is probably an in adequate procedure for obtaining and maintaining an informed consent.  (+info)

Clinical evaluation of the enhanced Gen-Probe Amplified Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Direct Test for rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis in prison inmates. (5/986)

The reliability of the enhanced Amplified Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Direct Test (E-MTD; Gen-Probe, Inc., San Diego, Calif.) for rapid diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) was evaluated by testing 1, 004 respiratory specimens from 489 Texas prison inmates. Results were compared to those of mycobacterial culture (BACTEC TB 460 and Middlebrook 7H11 biplates), smear for acid-fast bacilli (AFB; auramine O), and clinical course. After chart review, three patients (nine specimens) who were on antituberculosis therapy before the study began were excluded from final analysis. Of the remaining 995 specimens, 21 were AFB smear positive: 13 grew Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC), 6 grew nontuberculous mycobacteria, and 2 (from two patients diagnosed with TB and started on therapy after the study began) were culture negative. Twenty-eight specimens (20 patients) were positive for MTBC by culture and E-MTD. Seven specimens (seven patients) were positive by culture alone; three were from patients who had other E-MTD-positive specimens, two were false-positive cultures, and two were false-negative E-MTD results. Eight specimens were positive by E-MTD only; four specimens (four patients) were false-positive E-MTD results, and four specimens were from two patients with earlier E-MTD-positive specimens that grew MTBC. Thus, there were 22 patients with TB (10 smear positive and 12 smear negative). The sensitivity and specificity of the AFB smear for diagnosis of TB, by patient, were 45.5 and 98.9%, respectively. After resolving discrepancies, these same values for E-MTD were 90.9 and 99.1% overall, 100 and 100% for the smear-positive patients, and 83.3 and 99.1% for the smear-negative patients. Excluding the one smear-negative patient whose E-MTD-negative, MTBC culture-positive specimen contained inhibitory substances, the sensitivity of E-MTD was 95.2% overall and 90.9% in smear-negative patients. The specificity and positive predictive value of E-MTD can be improved, without altering other performance characteristics, by modifying the equivocal zone recommended by the manufacturer. These data suggest that E-MTD is a reliable method for rapid diagnosis of pulmonary TB, irrespective of the AFB smear result. Guidelines for the most appropriate use of E-MTD with smear-negative patients are needed.  (+info)

Prevalence of hepatitis C in prisons: WASH-C surveillance linked to self-reported risk behaviours. (6/986)

We used cross-sectional willing anonymous salivary hepatitis C (WASH-C) surveillance linked to self-completed risk-factor questionnaires to estimate the prevalence of salivary hepatitis C antibodies (HepCAbS) in five Scottish prisons from 1994 to 1996. Of 2121 available inmates, 1864 (88%) participated and 1532/1864 (82%) stored samples were suitable for testing. Overall 311/1532 (20.3%, prevalence 95% CI 18.3-22.3%) were HepCAbS-positive: 265/536 (49%, 95% CI 45-54%) injector-inmates but only 27/899 (3%, 95% CI 2-4%) non-injector-inmates. Among injectors, HepCAbS positivity was only slightly higher (p = 0.03) in those who had injected inside prison (53%, 162/305) than in those who had not (44%, 98/224). Those who began injecting in 1992-96 were much less likely to be HepCAbS-positive than those who started pre-1992 (31%, 35/114 vs. 55%, 230/422; p < 0.001). Even with injectors who began in 1992-96 but had never injected inside prison, the prevalence of hepatitis C carriage was 17/63 (95% CI 16-38%). The prevalence and potential transmissibility of hepatitis C in injector-inmates are both high. Promoting 'off injecting' before 'off drugs' (both inside and outside prison), methadone prescription during short incarcerations, alternatives to prison, and support of HepCAbS-positive inmates in becoming eligible for treatment, all warrant urgent consideration.  (+info)

Prevalence and correlates of hepatitis C virus infection among inmates entering the California correctional system. (7/986)

To estimate the prevalence and predictors of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection among inmates, a cross-sectional survey was conducted in 1994 among inmates entering six reception centers of the California Department of Corrections. Discarded serum samples were tested for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), HCV, hepatitis B core, and hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg). Of 4,513 inmates in this study, 87.0% were men and 13.0% were women. Among male inmates, 39.4% were anti-HCV-positive; by race/ethnicity, prevalences were highest among whites (49.1%). Among female inmates, 53.5% were anti-HCV-positive; the prevalence was highest among Latinas (69.7%). In addition, rates for HIV were 2.5% for men and 3.1% for women; and for HBsAg, 2.2% (men) and 1.2% (women). These data indicate that HCV infection is common among both men and women entering prison. The high seroprevalence of anti-HCV-positive inmates may reflect an increased prevalence of high-risk behaviors and should be of concern to the communities to which these inmates will be released.  (+info)

Challenge of Goodness II: new humanitarian technology, developed in croatia and bosnia and Herzegovina in 1991-1995, and applied and evaluated in Kosovo 1999. (8/986)

This paper presents improvements of the humanitarian proposals of the Challenge of Goodness project published earlier (1). In 1999 Kosovo crisis, these proposals were checked in practice. The priority was again on the practical intervention - helping people directly - to prevent, stop, and ease suffering. Kosovo experience also prompted us to modify the concept of the Challenge of Goodness. It should include research and education (1. redefinition of health, 2. confronting genocide, 3. university studies and education, and 4. collecting experience); evaluation (1. Red Cross forum, 2. organization and technology assessment, 3. Open Hand - Experience of Good People); activities in different stages of war or conflict in: 1. prevention (right to a home, Hate Watch, early warning), 2. duration (refugee camps, prisoners-of-war camps, global hospital, minorities), 3. end of conflict (planned, organized, and evaluated protection), 4. post conflict (remaini ng and abandoned populations, prisoners of war and missing persons, civilian participation, return, and renewal). Effectiveness of humanitarian intervention may be performed by politicians, soldiers, humanitarian workers, and volunteers, but the responsibility lies on science. Science must objectively collect data, develop hypotheses, check them in practice, allow education, and be the force of good, upon which everybody can rely. Never since the World War II has anybody in Europe suffered in war and conflict so much as peoples in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo. We should search for the meaning of their suffering, and develop new knowledge and technology of peace.  (+info)