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The Inmate's Guide to Prison Health Care

by Dr. D.M. Granit, Two Rainbow Publishing Co., Oct. 2003, 106 pp.

Review by John E. Dannenber

The Inmate's Guide to Prison Health
Care offers prisoners a unique perspective on how to get the best response to their health care needs: being a better patient. Dr. D.M. Granit (pseudonym and not a doctor) has doled out health care to California prisoners for thirteen years, only to see the prisoners act (or react) to perceived difficulties in getting the medical care they need in such a way as to unwittingly diminish the results. In an effort to mitigate this frustration, Granit offers rare insight from the caregiver's viewpoint to improve the patient-caregiver relationship, and thereby, the quality of health care. Although based upon Granit's California Department of Corrections experience, the Guide is a useful tool for all prisoners and their families.

The Guide is neither a medical manual nor a legal text, and is not written in technical language. To the contrary, it is aimed at prisoners of modest educational backgrounds, so as to bring its message to all detainees in prisons, jails and camps. It begins with a description of how prison health care systems are organized, funded and administered. Chapter 2 introduces the types of prison health care professionals: doctors, different levels of nurse practitioners and various dental specialists.

Chapter 3 covers typical procedures one should expect when accessing the system, including sick call and infectious disease screening exams. Also covered are triage, emergency treatment and problems associated with being in lock-up.

Chapter 4 takes you through the medical examination protocol, including vital signs tests. It tells you how to meaningfully discuss your diagnosis and treatment needs with your doctor, concluding with a description of specialists and the ubiquitous prison medical committee that you might meet. Chapter 5 covers the same ideas, but geared for dental needs. Prescriptions and medication are summarized in Chapter 6.

Chapter 7 discusses common chronic prison health care problems, including diabetes, asthma high blood pressure, HIV and seizures. Maintaining good communications with health care providers, and what to do upon a breakdown in communications, is covered in Chapters 8 and 9. When all else fails, administrative appeals and outside help requests are suggested in Chapter 10.

The Guide concludes with common sense suggestions on how to take better care of yourself. It is available from Two Rainbow Publishing Co., POB 175, Davis, CA 95617.( g

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