Providing Orthopaedic Care for the Incarcerated: Obstacles and Challenges

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Scant information on healthcare delivery to inmates is available in the medical literature. Healthcare provision to inmates has different rules than that for the general population and presents particular challenges for orthopaedic surgeons because of the nature of this population and restrictions imposed by their confinement. This population is typically of a lower socioeconomic status and is less well educated, has accumulated injuries over a lifetime, and has a considerable prevalence of communicable and blood-borne diseases, along with a high prevalence of smoking and high-risk behavior, such as drug-seeking, abuse, and self-inflicted injury. These variables add levels of complexity of care, including the determination of medical necessity for orthopaedic referral, the logistics of transportation and follow-up, access to durable medical equipment and ancillary services, and the choices the orthopaedic provider must make to optimize care within these limitations.

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