New York City Jails Switch to Computerized Medical Database

NEW YORK — Correctional facilities in New York City are using a new computerized medical intake system that automates the medical screening process as inmates arrive at facilities.

The new $200,000 system is part of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s effort to better coordinate medical and mental health care within the city jail system.

The computerized database archives intake examination forms in a digital format, eliminating a paper-based system and allowing medical workers access to the records of inmates who have previously been incarcerated.

With the new automated screening process, each inmate is assigned a unique identification number that does not change depending on where he or she is incarcerated. The system also allows health care workers to quickly and accurately generate requests for specialized care.

The city has also allocated $12 million to move its entire medical records system over to a digital format, which would allow records to be copied and sent from one doctor to another with fewer complications.

The city’s inmate population requires medical attention, since an estimated 80,000 inmates per year abuse drugs or alcohol, according to officials. Ten to 20 percent of the inmate population tests positive for HIV.

The Health Department wants to increase the amount of tests performed to check inmates for sexually transmitted diseases. A department spokesperson says a pilot program would monitor all HIV-infected inmates and connect them with treatment clinics is being planned.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has allocated $3.7 million of the city’s budget to improve testing for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases among inmates.


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