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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Inspector Slams California Prison at Solano

SACRAMENTO (CN) - California's efforts to regain control of its prison medical system after a decade of federal oversight were hindered Tuesday after an inspection revealed unsanitary conditions and major lapses in inmate care at a prison.

The report by the state inspector general found dirty conditions at California State Prison Solano and lack of medical equipment and supplies at most of the prison's clinics.

The 101-page report found the prison was "inadequate" in most of the quality indicators used to grade the health care system and that it has "severe problems" processing and recording laboratory reports.

The prison in Vacaville, 35 miles southwest of Sacramento, did not receive a "proficient" grade in any of the 10 categories used by the inspector general.

California's inmate health care system has been under federal control since 2005 and the state auditor has classified Correction Health Care Services as a high-risk institution .

Only Folsom State Prison has regained control over inmate health care from the federal government since all 34 state prisons were turned over to a federal receiver more than 10 years ago.

The inspector general evaluated 62 inmates' medical files and reviewed each of the medical providers at the Solano prison, which oversees more than 3,800 inmates. According to the report, some providers did not have enough room for inmate examinations and many failed to perform proper follow-up tests and treatment.

After an inmate was transferred back to the prison from an outside hospital, prison medical staff failed to follow up with the man for more than six weeks after he had a large mass removed from his thyroid gland, the report states.

"This was a complete lapse in care, and this adverse event was classified as an unsafe condition," the report says.

One inmate was hospitalized for congestive heart failure and a prison pharmacist failed to transfer his prescription from the hospital. Two weeks later, the inmate returned to the hospital for recurrent congestive heart failure due to the prison's "lapse in care." According to the report, the pharmacist was fired after the incident.

A spokeswoman for California Correctional Health Care Services and the federal receiver's office said the review was conducted six months ago and that the prison "has already addressed many of the concerns raised in the report."

Joyce Hayhoe added that the inspector general's report is just one of the tools used by the federal receiver to determine if a prison's health care system is ready to be returned to the state.

"We will carefully review the information contained in the report, along with other internal and external information available to us, to determine whether the facility is ready for delegation," Hayhoe said in a statement.

The reports recommends the state improve its inmate medical records system and provide better training for nurses caring for inmates returning from outside care. It also recommends medical staff be provided "unhindered access to personal protective equipment" and additional basic sanitary supplies such as bio-hazard cans, sharps containers and tongue depressors.

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