Thursday, November 7, 2019

Educating Inmates Part 1

One of the biggest and most disturbing things I have noticed during my career as a nurse is the complete lack of understanding from my patients on their medications, drug use and diagnoses.

Most of my patients do not know both the brand and generic name of their medications let alone how they work within their bodies, their possible side effects or how long the medication is supposed to work for.  They don't know how the illegal drugs they are using affect their body systems in the long run or even how they are made AND crazily enough, over half my patients have no idea what their actual diagnosis is that made them get prescribed their medications or what the diagnosis means for them!

Granted, a handful or more of my specific patients (inmates) are bullshitting the system to get their hands on prescriptions that they do not need (cough, cough drug seekers cough, cough) but even in these instances, most have no idea how the medication actually works within them.

Is this lack of education due to just not caring?, blind faith in the medical community or their dealer?, laziness of the medical professional whom prescribed the medication? or just straight up inability to comprehend the educational matter concerning the medications?  I am not completely sure what the absolute correct answer is but I believe it to be a little of ALL OF THE ABOVE.

When people go through the process of becoming incarcerated (and believe me, it is a process!) there are a couple of times where Medical staff is assessing them to determine their medical needs before they are allowed to go to general population.  Upon entry into the facility, review of the Corrections screening (medical portion) and finally a full medical intake is performed.
  1. Entry into the Facility - Medical does a quick cursory once over on the inmate to ensure there is no immediate medical needs
    • Are they physically hurt?  Are they under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol?  Are there any immediate mental health issues?
  2. Review of the Corrections screening - Medical reviews the answers to the generic, wide-reach medical questions on the Corrections screening to determine priority order in which and inmate needs to have a full medical intake performed
    • What kind of medical needs are present?  Are they on medications?  Are they going to detox from these medications?  Any immediate need diagnoses present?  Are they going to detox from drugs and/or alcohol? etc. 
  3. Full Medical Intake - This is where Medical gets into the nitty-gritty with the inmate.  An in-depth full medical screening takes place at this stage.
    • Vital Signs and a full body system questionnaire is performed
It's at this stage that I get flabbergasted by the utter inability of most inmates to tell me what medications and/or illegal drugs they are on/taking and why.

Granted, some people just are not interested in the whys', they are told they need something and so they take it blindly and are OK with that.  There are some people who are like that.... but in general, most of the people that I treat are full of questions on the whats, whys and how comes.

So, a huge part of my communications with any inmate is to educate, educate, educate on EVERYTHING concerning their medical care.  I cater to the inmates levels of understanding, educational background, questions asked and eyebrow raises (you know, the eyebrow raise after you say something to someone and they do that one eyebrow raise like what the hell are you talking about...).  I take every opportunity to give snipits of educational information - whether it be verbally, in written form or via pictorials.

I'm not overly obnoxious about it - I don't push it on the people whom really just don't give a shit or who aren't ready to learn whatever it is I'm trying to educate them on.  I wait, listen and watch, then strike when the time is right 😂

I truly believe that educating someone is one of the best 'gifts' you can give someone!  Everyone knows that old saying "Knowledge is Power".  With my population of patients, knowledge can make all the difference in their lives!

Thank You for reading Part 1 in this series I am blogging about!  In Part 2, I will be going over some of the outrageously dangerous misconceptions I have heard from inmates concerning their medications, drug use and diagnoses and how I have educated them - as well as some interesting, random facts on popular meds, illegal drugs and homeopathic medical treatments that might surprise you!!

Let me know what you think so far in the comments!!  Any burning questions you want to see answered in this blog series? Just let me know and I'll work them in 😉

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