More on Inmate Medical Care

What are some examples of inmate medical care?

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012 |

My friend whom we thought had a heart attack was back today.  He had a heart catheterization that showed nothing abnormal.  It could have been something like acid reflux or food poisoning.  He is going to continue with the complaint filed against medical.  It could have been much worse than it was but I’m glad he is ok.  This reminds me of other stories regarding inmate medical care.

FMC Inmate Medical Care

I heard a few more horror stories about guys in the FMC. I have a friend that spent a year in the FMC for cancer treatment. He had two roomies die while he was there, but neither died from cancer. I’m glad he is not my cellie!

One of the guys went to sick call every day for a week complaining that he wasn’t feeling good. Medical never let a doctor examine him, and did nothing to diagnose the problem. They just sent him back to his room. Finally, one day he looked terrible and couldn’t really function. My friend put him in a wheelchair and took him to ambulatory care. They finally examined him and sent him to an outside hospital.

My friend saw the nurse later in the day who matter-of-factly told him that his roomie had passed away earlier that afternoon. He knows they did an autopsy but doesn’t know the cause of death. My friend gave the guy’s family the story of BOP’s treatment neglect and told them that they probably had a reason for a lawsuit. Get this – BOP would not release his body to the family for 60 days!

Busted Gall Bladder

Another guy in our unit had his gall bladder burst a few weeks ago. He was taken to an outside hospital for emergency surgery. He was clearly in danger of dying. His family was not notified of his condition for a few days, and he was not allowed to talk to them. The BOP would not tell the family what hospital he was staying so there was no way they could visit him.

Not telling the family the name of the hospital is common because BOP fears the security risk (i.e., that he might escape). He was eventually released one evening and got to the unit at about 11 pm. He looked terrible. The next morning, they took him to the FMC to recuperate. He probably should have been transferred directly to FMC because his condition was so fragile. It is a miracle he is still with us!

FMC Trip for Colonoscopy

What is a trip to the FMC like?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 |

I had a FMC trip for a colonoscopy yesterday. Medical required me to go to the FMC the previous day for my “prep” elixir.  Handing me a gallon jug and printed directions took all of three minutes with a nurse, but a total of three hours for the trip.

The procedure went fine.  The prep/recovery area and operating room were fully-equipped with modern equipment. I really can’t complain about my treatment by the surgery personnel. There were seven other guys who were also lined up in the prep/recovery room for their procedures.  I was last to be operated on.

I have noticed that the outside doctors and medical professionals are much better than the BOP employees. My doctor was a super nice guy and fully explained the procedure and results. He and others truly treated the inmates with respect. I can’t say that about some of the BOP employees. It may be a difference between being a government employee and someone in private practice.

I made it back to the camp at about 3:15 so it was a long day

FMC Trip

I’ve taken many trips to the FMC, but I will recap the FMC trip process again. The bus to the FMC leaves at 8 am. Campers must check out at the FCI I/Medium, since they have inmate control there. We arrive at the FMC and generally must wait for 30 minutes or so for a CO to take us to R&D. Next, we change into temp uniforms in R&D, and then we are escorted to our appointments.

I’ve been with as many as seven guys and as little as three. We must wait for the escorting CO to come around to the respective medical office again when we finish with our appointment. Then we go back to R&D to go through the entire process in reverse. The FMC COs try to time the campers’ departure with other inmates from other Butner facilities, but this doesn’t always happen.

The FMC CO will call the camp to have just one inmate picked up to return to the camp. If you are not out of FMC by lunch, you will be there into mid-afternoon. We can generally get back to the camp within 15 – 30 min’s from when the FMC desk calls the camp for our pick up.

The guys from the other facilities have it much worse than us. If someone goes to the FMC often, they would die to have the opportunity to go as a camper. Inmates from the other facilities must report to their R&D very early in the morning, change into temp uniforms there, and then are shackled for their trip. They all go and return together. In addition, they are locked in holding cells until they are ready to go both ways. It’s a major hassle!

Cancer Care at Butner

How is the cancer care at Butner?

Saturday, March 17, 2012 |

Butner is known for its cancer care for federal inmates.  The BOP sends inmates with cancer from around the country to Butner.  Chances are that if you are in the system and have cancer, you will be sent to Butner, no matter your security level.  Butner’s proximity to Duke and other world-class hospitals is a good reason why this is wise on BOP’s part.  It is amazing how many guys I meet with cancer and the various places they come from.

I was talking to one of my friends who had his knee replaced and had cancer treatment at Butner about his health care experience. Overall, he had very good experiences. His knee replacement failed through no fault of BOP, but they had Duke put in another “bionic” knee. He caught his cancer very early. They started cancer treatment quickly, and he will be ok.

My friend’s perspective is that getting the care is the biggest problem.  The BOP is notorious about delaying care.  Often, they will find reasons not to look at a complaint, especially if it involves specialized care that the BOP doctors don’t understand, or feel is too expensive.  But once under care, the BOP does all they can for the guy.

Further, my friend believes that most of the guys who die here would have died anyway on the street. Given this is the only BOP cancer treatment facility, by necessity many guys who come here will die of cancer. I can see his perspective. Most of what I have been exposed to are guys who struggle to get adequate care. My perspective is a little different, but then again, different people will have different experiences.

Federal Medical Center is Not Efficient

Friday, February 3rd, 2012 |

I had two Federal Medical Center visits in two consecutive days, and both were a waste of time. The entire process of taking inmates to the Butner FMC is not efficient.  Campers don’t know we are going to FMC until about 6:30 am that morning. Nearly every weekday morning at 8 am inmates board a bus to the FMC. There are typically 6 – 8 guys going at any one time. The bus stops at the FCI so we can check out of the camp, and then off to the FMC.

We have a different FMC CO crew this quarter than last. These COs strip search us (completely undress, spread cheeks and lift balls). We never had to do that before. A CO escorts the guys to each of their appointments. Most guys go to Ambulatory Care to wait for their appointments. I went to Ambulatory Care on both days.

Inmates from all four Butner facilities are brought to the FMC just once a day.  There may be 50 or 60 guys waiting to see a doctor, so this could be an all-day affair.

Butner Federal Medical Center

The doctors for both of my visits this week don’t even get to the FMC until the afternoon. It was 2 pm on both days before I saw the doctor.  This means that I sat in the waiting room for 5+ hours waiting for the doctor. The first doctor told me that he wanted to schedule me for a colonoscopy. I knew they were going to do this.  I don’t know why I had to spend a full day at the FMC for a 2-minute meeting with the doctor.

The following day I was called to the FMC to meet with the cardiologist for a 5-minute appointment. The GI wanted the cardiologist’s clearance prior to the colonoscopy. The cardiologist even said the clearance wasn’t needed. Oh well.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if they ran two trips to FMC each day rather than just one. They could easily do one in the morning and another in the afternoon. This would make too much sense which is why it will never happen. Nothing is ever efficient for the BOP.

Medical Records Need Safekeeping at Home

Thursday, January 26th, 2012 |

Everyone agrees that prison medical records need safekeeping at home.  So, I just mailed a complete set of my medical records to Christine. The BOP keeps a detailed record of all my hospital visits, sick call visits, test results, etc.  However, the records are only as good as the medical staff person inputting the information.  The BOP is notorious for recording incorrect data in inmate medical records.  The whole culture of the BOP is to shift blame for anything that goes wrong to the inmate and away from BOP staff.

An inmate must be diligent in following up on his medical care.  It is equally important to verify the information that is the result of that care.  Also, I have discovered things about what medical staff was documenting about my medical condition which they never verbalized to me.

Every inmate with medical issues should periodically request their medical records and review them for completeness and accuracy.  If something was ever to happen to the inmate, the family would have the medical records prior to any BOP staff member doctoring the data.  Some of my friends at Butner are doctors.  If I have any questions about my medical records, I will ask one of these guys to explain to me.  I get better medical answers from the inmate doctors than I do from the Butner medical staff.

BOP always runs up to a month behind in updating its records so their records are not necessarily to the present date. There is a date on the lower left of the first page indicating the last record date. Updates from tests prior to this date, but not inputted into their system, will appear when I request my next update.

Healthcare is a Disaster!

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011 |

I have heard horror stories about the healthcare here.  There was a guy who had a heart attack at the weight area.  The defibrillator battery was dead.  They got a second defibrillator, and its battery was dead.  The guy died.  I have talked to other guys that had their medical treatment delayed or ignored.  It is apparently a common thing. I have written about the uncaring nature, or general lack of competence, of healthcare here.

FMC

I was also told that the FMC can no longer do surgery because there is a staph virus in the air vents, and this is in a government hospital!  God help us all when the government takes over all healthcare.  Butner uses local hospitals for specialized procedures.  But, they owe Duke Medical Center $4M so Duke has stopped accepting Butner patients.  There are other local hospitals to refer inmates to, but it is unconscionable to stiff your major healthcare provider.

Please remember that Butner is a primary provider for health services for inmates in the BOP system.  My guess is that nearly half of the campers are “Care Level 3”, which indicates chronic care problems that require constant monitoring.  I would guess that the number is close to 25% of the inmates at the Low, and most inmates that are housed at the FMC.  It is hard for me to estimate the Care Level 3 inmates at the maximum and at the medium, but I would have to assume that the ratio is comparable to the Low.  The entire Butner complex has about 5,100 inmates.

My Healthcare Experience

I had some urology issues when I was in the SHU.  Medical scheduled me for an ultrasound for the day after my arrival at the camp.  About 10 days later, I met with the nurse about the results.  She said the results showed a “hydrocele”.  Since the swelling went down, it would probably heal itself.  She didn’t seem to know what a hydrocele was so she googled it and showed me pictures.

It was evident to me that she didn’t know what she was talking about so I asked to see a urologist.  She said she would schedule me for a urology appointment.  A week passed and still no appointment so I sent a cop out in again requesting the appointment.

Last week I requested a copy of all my Butner medical records.  I got the records on Thursday and reviewed them.  The ultrasound report indicated the hydrocele was probably caused by an infection.  She never mentioned the infection part.  As I was walking out the door with a cop out to speak to the camp doctor, I noticed I had a call out for a urology appointment at FMC.  A long story short, I went to FMC at 8 am and finally saw the doctor at about 1 pm or so.  He told me that the hydrocele was definitely caused by an infection and was surprised that I was not given antibiotics three weeks ago.  The doctor wrote the prescriptions and said he would see me in a couple of weeks.  This was a contract doctor and he seemed like a good guy.

My medical records also indicated some of my blood test results were out of normal range after I left the SHU.  The original blood tests, taken at the Low at intake, were all in the normal range.   I doubt the latest blood tests were reviewed, or perhaps they were ignored.  I will send the camp doctor a cop out about these blood tests.

Advice

The only advice I could give someone here is to constantly monitor your health records, keep a diary of all medical treatment, report health issues immediately, and insist on competent treatment.

First FMC Visit

Saturday, October 1st, 2011 |

On Thursday night, I noted that I had a call-out to go to the medical center (FMC) yesterday for an ultrasound for my first FMC visit.  I quickly found out that I had to be at the bus at 8 am, even though my appointment was at 9:30 am.  I missed the bus since I had to pick up my uniforms at 7:30. The camper who coordinates the transfers to the medical center found me.  The bus had already left.  To my delightful surprise, they have campers who are drivers for the Camp.  I had one of these drivers take me to FMC.

Campers as Drivers

A side note – They have “complex” drivers and “town” drivers at the Camp.  Few of the campers have a valid driver’s license, so they sometimes have difficulty finding drivers.  These guys are very busy.  One driver told me that he is driving about 200 miles a day.  These trips include running errands (e.g.; Home Depot) and driving guys to the airport and bus depot.  One of the guys told me that he took someone as far away as Charlotte.  I put in for a driver’s job yesterday but they won’t consider me until I get four months under my belt here.  I just would like to get out and see the real world.

Federal Medical Center (FMC)

BOP stock photo of the Butner FMC

The FMC building has the look and feel of any other hospital, but with tighter security.  This is the only hospital for the nearly 5,000 men at Butner so it is very active every day.  There are wings for cancer care, regular hospital ward beds, mental health ward, and a residential dorm like the other prison facilities.  I can’t tell you exactly the layout for these because I didn’t see them.

BOP sends inmates to outside hospitals (including Duke) for operations and treatment that FMC can’t handle.  The doctors and staff seemed to be a combination of permanent employees and contract workers.  Everyone seemed professional.  The equipment I observed all seemed state of the art.

Going to the FMC

The complex driver took me to the Medium since it is the inmate control center for the Camp.  I walked in to the Medium’s front door to check-in with the guards there. This just comprised me showing the control guard my ID so he can record that I am no longer on the Camp compound.  It was no big deal.

At the FMC

Inmates wait in the FMC reception area for a CO to escort them to the FMC’s R&D.  In R&D, all inmates are given temporary clothing and a full strip search.  A CO then escorts the inmates to their appointment waiting room and then back to the R&D area at the end of the visit.  I was not placed in cuffs at this facility.

Inmates from the higher security facilities are segregated from the Campers and go through much higher security procedures.  They get different color temporary clothing from the campers.  But, the biggest hassle is that they are required to be transported from their facilities in cuffs and shackles.

The appointment waiting room is locked by the guard so movement is controlled.  We were given our lunch in the waiting room.  This is an all-day affair with a lot of waiting – at R&D, in the waiting room waiting to be called for the appointment, and more waiting for the return to R&D.

Return to the Camp

I caught a van from the FMC to the Camp with the one stop at Medium to be checked back into the compound.  I probably got back to the camp around 2 pm.  We must check-in with medical upon our return.  I told them that the ultrasound tech said that I would be notified if the test showed any problems for follow-up.