Phoenix Jail’s Inmate Health Record System Fails


Among experts in correctional health, the test of any system is how well it can collect and manage patients’ data, says the Arizona Republic. Faced with a constantly changing, high-risk population, jail staff must quickly diagnose, track, and treat a variety of medical conditions. Knowing which inmate has what condition, the risks involved, treatment regimens and where that inmate is at any given time is a huge challenge.

Phoenix’ Maricopa County Correctional Health Services department has failed for years on that basic standard of collecting and managing medical data. The solution is a central, electronic medical-records system to replace the county’s scattered paper files and limited computer capacity. The county’s Board of Supervisors has not acted on repeated recommendations to install such a system, even when faced with hundreds of lawsuits and the loss of accreditation. An investigation by the newspaper found a system with chronic problems and top county officials who seem unwilling to fix them. In the second of a series, the Republic explored the value of an electronic records system and what the old system costs taxpayers.

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