Basically you are going to conduct your assessment on an inmate in the same manner you would on any pt. You will have a few variations on this theme, however. For example, you will most likely have a correctional officer present at all times. Occasionally, (not usually during nurse sick call) your pt. may be in hand cuffs (hard restraints) or a restraint chair(4-point restraints with soft restraints to ankles/wrists). So, you must always make sure your officer is the same gender as your pt. if you need them to undress for the assessment. You must never take anything the inmate says at face value. Always remember to do a thorough assessment and look for symptoms of a particular complaint. 95% of what these inmates tell you is untrue and as for the 5% that is legitimate--that's your job to weed through the bologna and find the pts. who really are sick. Remember that these people are not there for medical treatment(unless,of course, it is a correctional medical facility). They are there for punishment, therefore, look at the odds. Think about how many people in the outside population get sick with the ailment they are claiming they have (example: c/o CP "I think I'm havin' a heart attack"). Sometimes you get 10 or 15 c/o CP a week...how many actual MIs do you see in an ER in a week? But, as I said, there are sick people there, and it is your job to treat, so you must hone your assessment skills. Don't ASK them about their symptoms...LOOK for them first, then ask questions if you think there might really be something there. Don't give them ideas of what to tell you. They are quite manipulative in this way. You always have an obligation to examine, assess, treat as necessary. You don't want to ever not check something out because that inmate that cries wolf all the time could actually need treatment at some time. Some people feel like correctional nurses are not skilled or they are not challenged in their job. This is not true. Correctional nursing takes excellent assessment skills and knowledge of disease processes. You will see alot of Hepatitis, HIV, drug abuse related symptoms and diseases. Then you get your typical colds,flus, allergies, need to see the dentist...again, alot of it is run-of-the mill. Then you get trauma, responding to emergencies like fights, attempted suicides. It is never dull, never the same thing from one day to the next.
Best wishes in your endeavor...if you have any other questions feel free to ask! Hope this helps!:wink2: