Recent events at my place of employment – legal and documentation concerns


I am a correctional nurse; I work in jails and prisons. Working in this environment medical staff must not only be vigilant of medical needs for our patients, but also for legality issues and security threats.
Last week a female inmate was being housed in a disciplinary unit by correctional staff. During this move the inmate’s roommate notified an officer that she had stuck contraband (in this case a crack pipe) in her vagina. The inexperienced sergeant insisted that medical staff on duty do an x-ray or cavity search of some kind. They never should have asked that of the nursing staff, it is a standard that corrections are responsible for any kind of security threat or contraband search. Unfortunately the officers were apparently so intimidating that the medical staff ( 1 LPN, 1 charge RN, and 1 Physician’s Assistant) agreed to do so. With the help of several officers, some of them male, they held the inmate down, and the PA digitally searched her vagina for a crack pipe. The legal ramifications are of course atrocious. According to the medical records/notes that I reviewed as a manager:

1. The inmate verbally was refusing the examination to be performed.
2. Males were present during the examination (there are plenty of qualified female officers present to handle these types of situations with female inmates).
3. The documentation was poor at best from both corrections and the nursing staff.
4. I have to discuss the possibility with staff and my superiors that this is possible a violation of a person’s 4th amendment rights.


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