Should we deny convicts proper medical care? Many feel that criminals deserve to suffer for their crimes, regardless of their medical situation. Others may feel that medical treatment for prisoners is the humane thing to do.
Over the years, I've treated a few prisoners within the hospital setting, not for cancer, but for other medical issues, and I have to say, they were the most grateful group of patients I've ever treated. For them, being in the hospital was like spending a weekend in a luxury hotel. They were appreciative of the care, comfort, and compassion.
I could allow myself to deliver good care probably because I was not aware of their convictions. If I had known, especially something heinous in nature, I would have delivered the same quality care but maybe with less compassion. It's difficult to say. I wonder if this is the case for many healthcare professionals who reside in correctional facilities.
We stress cancer prevention and screening among ourselves, but are prisoners receiving the same care? The Federal Bureau of Prisons includes cancer screening guidelines, but some correctional facilities may not be providing this service in a timely manner, and as many of us know, timing is everything when it comes to cancer diagnosis.
According to Victoria Law, author of "Breast Cancer Behind Bars: How a Prison Sentence Can Become a Death Sentence," women may not be receiving the necessary cancer screening and care for a diagnosis such as breast cancer. Delayed screening and chemotherapy administration, along with poor management of side effects, may be the reality for many inmates with cancer, men included.
With a delay in screening and treatment, incarcerated patients may be faced with another challenge -- being diagnosed with advanced or metastatic disease requiring extensive treatment or possibly even hospice care. Not only does this leave the inmate with a poor outcome, it may be more costly for the state as well.
How do you feel about inmates receiving proper cancer screening and quality cancer care? Are we doing too little or too much?