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Reducing Risk: The Importance of Transparent Operations

Correctional healthcare is a unique field that requires a delicate balance between providing medical and mental health care for inmates while maintaining security and safety within the facility. However, recent studies have shown that a lack of transparency in correctional healthcare operations can lead to severe issues, such as medical errors and mistreatment of inmates.

This article will explore the importance of transparent operations in correctional healthcare. We will discuss the benefits of implementing transparency measures and how correctional healthcare facilities can achieve transparency while maintaining confidentiality and security. Let's explore why transparency is crucial for reducing risk and improving the quality of care in correctional healthcare.

 Standards of Care

There is so much desire for transparency of life within prisons that concerned law students created Incarceration Transparency, a project that gathers data on deaths in custody. To prevent incarceration death from occurring again, it's crucial to have accurate and consistent information about what happened and how to avoid it in the future. However, at RHS, we're not waiting for tragedy to strike. We’re proactive and believe transparency is critical to reducing harm behind bars.

Access to Healthcare 

When inmates perceive that their medical needs are being met, it fosters a sense of trust and confidence in the system. This trust, in turn, leads to increased compliance with medical protocols, better health outcomes, and reduced instances of conflict or unrest within correctional facilities. By actively involving inmates in decision-making processes and communicating medical information openly, transparency reinforces the legitimacy of the healthcare system and promotes a positive therapeutic relationship.

Improving Overall Health and Safety

By upholding transparent practices, correctional healthcare systems demonstrate their commitment to ethical standards, such as patient confidentiality, informed consent, and equitable access to healthcare services. Transparency in correctional healthcare ensures that the rights and dignity of inmates are protected, even in a restricted environment.

Transparency in correctional healthcare directly impacts incarcerated individuals' overall health and safety. Openness in reporting incidents, outbreaks, and infectious diseases allows for timely intervention, prevention, and containment measures. By sharing relevant information with healthcare providers, inmates, and staff members, the spread of illnesses can be minimized, and appropriate treatment and preventive measures can be implemented promptly utilizing best practices. Transparency also facilitates the identification of systemic issues, such as inadequate staffing or resource allocation, enabling corrective actions to be taken swiftly. These proactive measures enhance the overall health and safety of correctional facilities.

The Importance of Independent Oversight in Correctional Healthcare

Corrections health care is a unique medical field requiring the highest patient and staff safety standards. As such, independent oversight in correctional health care is essential for reducing risk and maintaining the quality of operations. The core purpose of independent oversight is to act as an impartial third party to review and evaluate correctional healthcare facilities' practices, ensuring they comply with regulations, laws, and best practices.

Independent oversight is critical in holding correctional healthcare systems accountable for their actions and ensuring inmates receive the care and protection they are due. Oversight committees can assess staffing levels, monitor quality assurance processes, investigate complaints, and recommend improvements to medical protocols and procedures. Additionally, independent oversight can provide valuable guidance to facility administrators on maintaining a safe environment while providing necessary services and medical care.

Internal Auditing and National Accreditation

The Auditing Department at RHS, known as Hawkeye Services, conducts statewide facility CQI audits using various audit tools such as RHS CQI, GAR Competency & Components, and the NCCHC - Health Care Outcome Measures Worksheet. Each month, Hawkeye staff audits every facility and requests a list of unannounced CQI audit charts on the day of the audit, without facility managers or staff involvement. Our CQI studies include both process and outcome measures, and we work with Hawkeye staff to develop, monitor, and evaluate Corrective Action Plans.

RHS is committed to providing quality care to inmates in correctional facilities. To ensure that our operations are transparent and comply with the highest standards of safety and care, we follow the accreditation standards put forth by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC), American Correctional Association (ACA), and New Mexico Counties (NMC). We employ a  full-time accreditation specialist who monitors each facility to ensure full compliance. 

The importance of transparency in correctional healthcare cannot be overstated. Transparency promotes trust, accountability, and efficiency in penal systems while ensuring inmates receive the high-quality healthcare services they deserve. By providing independent oversight and holding organizations accountable for their actions, we can ensure that all people living in prison are treated with respect and dignity.

By implementing internal monitoring units to maintain national accreditation standards, authorities can monitor healthcare providers' performance, identify improvement areas, and take corrective actions when necessary. This accountability safeguards against neglect, substandard care, and other unethical practices, creating a safer and healthier environment within correctional facilities.