Why is corrections nursing so litigious?

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    I keep hearing how corrections nursing is very litigious. In one of these threads, a reason given for quitting corrections was, "I don't want to get sued." A couple of my friends from school work at a city jail and mentioned how nurses tend to be subpoenaed to court often, for lawyers arguing things like the blood draw was done incorrectly for a DUI or something like that. What other reasons might a corrections nurse be subpoenaed to court? And why does it happen so often? I understand negligence and malpractice in the hospital setting, etc, just wondering in what ways could this apply in a jail or prison? And would your standard nursing malpractice insurance cover corrections as well?
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  3. 6 Comments so far...

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    One thing that is special to corrections is the concept of deliberate indifference. This is different from malpractice or negligence and is often claimed by inmates.

    In addition, inmates have a lot of time on their hands and sometimes use that to sue staff, including nurses. Sometimes its because they think they have a real claim, sometimes it is just to make life difficult for the administration.

    Another factor is that in corrections, your patients have not chosen you as their caregiver and have no other options. Thus, if there is not a provider-client relationship as in other settings. Rather, there is an adverserial relationship between nurses and inmates. Now, that may not be pronounced or even the overall vibe of the relationship, but that tension is always underlying.
    Multicollinearity likes this.
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    Thanks. That's kind of what I was thinking. Another question is where do they get the money (?) to sue? I know prisoners have rights, but what happens if they win a case against a nurse? Are they entitled to monetary damages like someone in a hospital setting might be? I don't really understand how it would work...
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    Also, is the inmates credibility taken into account when they make accusations?
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    Money: Friends, family, criminal activity, inmate jobs. In many cases, though, inmates write the suit themselves and can file it for little or no cost based on laws designed to protect the ability of inmates to file suits for their own protection against cruel and unusual punishment, i.e., violations of their rights or related to the condition of their confinement.

    As for credibility, yes and no. In some cases, correctional systems will try to settle the cases so that they do not have to spend the time and money to fight them. The inmate will get a little money, or will have some kind of injuctive relief, while the nurse is stuck with a judgement against them. The correctional system makes a problem go away but the nurse is stuck forever with this stain on their record.
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    Some of the inmates just want a quick pay day so they can have money in their canteen or commissary. Many were misfits before incarceration and will remain so until the day they hit the dirt. Sad but true.
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    With city jails, the issue of the blood draw for DUI's is a tactic the lawyer would use to show that the blood alcohol level results were not accurate due to the way they were drawn. Nurses who work in jails know how to do it correctly, though. It is just a lawyer's sneaky tactic to get a charge dismissed. That is why charting is so very important.


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