I was thinking back to our discussion on torture, and specifically on the issues of Abu Ghraib, when a thought occurred to me. What sort of medical professionals were present in the prison? Very little mention was ever made of a physician, and the fact that prisoners were consistently denied the right to a health professional might indicate either the absence of such an individual or the of presence apathetic medical personnel.
More and more cases are arising where prison or correctional facility physicians are having either their license suspended to practice medicine or where they are simply being relieved of duty. Many times (such as this case: http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/projects/prison3/lo010603s4.shtml), doctors are being charged with gross incompetence, and others are being charged with involuntary manslaughter. I agree, that at times, many physicians in the correctional facilities around the country (and world) do not practice under the same standards that regulate federal health care. What remains true, though, is that the life of a prison physician is far from glamorous. Many adverse factors gravely affect prison medical staff, ranging from lack of resources or funding, to the sadly frequent practice that many nation states use: utilizing the prison system as a dumping ground for marginalized individuals and those with mental illness -- the "misfits" of society, if you will. Are prisons places where those who are ill have lost their standing in humankind? Should national medical associations make certain that these physicians have the same requirements for certification as a regulatory practice medical professional?
Most correctional facilities are state-run, with the exception of little dots of private institutions here and there throughout the United States. After some thought, I'm beginning to wonder if the state has a huge bearing on the requirements and performance of correctional facility physician and perhaps even nurses. Additionally, the use of lethal injection is legal in many states. A case a few years ago arose in Washington state where a prison physician resigned because he refused to administer a lethal injection. Whereas the American Medical Association condemns physicians from having any direct role in lethal injections, including "any action that would assist, supervise or otherwise contribute in any way to cause the death of the condemned" (AMA). My point in bringing this up is that the states that run these places seem to have very little thought in the healthcare of the prisoners and in the ethical guidelines that many doctors believe must be adhered to in correctional facilities.
What do you guys think?