Nurses working with inmates in the prison system

Working in the prison system is part of forensic nursing. The registered nurse working with inmates has a unique opportunity to implement health promotion activities. Patients who are incarcerated have a lot of time on their hands and perhaps some of that time could be used for learning about disease prevention. Many inmates come into the prison system already suffering from multiple medical problems. Many of them have chronic illnesses such as diabetes or hypertension, others have communicable diseases. Mental illness and substance abuse are also common in the prison system. Patients who are healthy when they come into the system are also at risk for developing health problems because of risky behaviors that often take place among inmates. Nurses must assess for some of the risk factors and develop a treatment plan appropriately. As part of the treatment plan, nurses could teach their patients about disease management, disease prevention and health promotion. Some examples of teaching may include having the patient identify signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Nurses could also teach patients relaxation techniques and stress management. Forensic nursing offers a unique opportunity for nurses to really make a difference in an inmate’s quality of life.

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