The purpose of health services is to provide comprehensive medical, dental, mental health, and associated ancillary services to inmates.
The Department of Corrections is constitutionally required to provide a health care delivery system that ensures adequate care to all inmates and achieves correctional health care standards. Federal and state law, whether constitutional or statutory, sets forth minimum standards that the department must meet in order to provide minimally adequate medical and mental health care for inmates under its care and supervision.
Beginning in March 2013, comprehensive health care services, with the exception of pharmacy services, are provided through private health care contractors.
Under this model, department staff oversees the delivery of health care services and provides technical assistance to contractors. In addition, the department continues to provide pharmacy purchasing and dispensing services, with the private health care providers stocking and administering medications to inmates.
Inmate health care services are delivered at a variety of locations. Each major correctional institution is staffed and equipped to provide primary and urgent health care. When inmates need emergency care that cannot be provided at the institution, they are transported to the nearest community emergency room. Specialty services are provided at most reception centers. The private health care providers negotiate contracts and price agreements with local emergency room facilities and community health care providers and specialists for services that cannot be delivered in-house (e.g., some surgeries and orthopedics).
Each major institution has an inmate infirmary. In addition, the department and vendor operate the Reception and Medical Center Hospital, located in Lake Butler, which is a licensed 120-bed hospital that provides acute care for inmates. The department and its vendor also maintain a secure hospital unit at Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville (23 beds) for inmates requiring additional hospital-level care. The department and its vendor maintain a 12-bed secure hospital unit at Larkin Community Hospital in Miami-Dade for hospital care for inmates in South Florida.
The department's Office of Health Services monitors the delivery of health care services by the private health care providers. The contracts with the private health care providers include 46 reporting requirements and 70 performance measures covering health services administration and medical, dental, mental health, and pharmacy services. The department has a total of 21 clinical and administrative monitors who use a standardized monitoring instrument to review performance at each institution at least twice per year. The private health care providers are required to develop and implement a corrective action plan for each monitoring finding.
The Director of Health Services and other department staff in Tallahassee oversee the corrective action process. In addition, they are responsible for a variety of other oversight functions, such as policy development; administration of a statewide quality management program; handling administrative grievance appeals; responding to health care inquiries from inmates' family members and other interested parties; and ensuring private health care providers respond to issues identified during Correctional Medical Authority (CMA) reviews.
The Correctional Medical Authority assists in the delivery of health care services for inmates in the Department of Corrections by advising the Secretary of Corrections on the professional conduct of primary, convalescent, dental, and mental health care, and the management of costs consistent with quality care; advising the Governor and the Legislature on the status of the Department of Corrections' health care delivery system; and assuring that adequate standards of physical and mental health care for inmates are maintained at all Department of Corrections' institutions through triennial survey process.
For Fiscal Year 2019-20, the department reported that the average statewide per diem cost for health care for all inmates, excluding those in private prisons, was $17.52.
|Health Care Study: Florida Department of Corrections, Report 19-FDCMed, November 2019|
Correctional Medical Authority agendas, minutes, surveys, and reports are available on the authority's website.
Commission on Offender Review-Clemency and Conditional Medical Release-Operational Audit, Auditor General Report 2021-118, January 2021
Use of Telemedicine in Inmate Health Care, Florida Senate, Issue Brief 2012-213, September 2011.
Inmate Trust Accounts, Inmate Health Care Services Contracts, and Prior Audit Follow-Up, Auditor General Report No. 2016-179, March 2016.
The Auditor General reports on department operations are available on its website.
Websites of Interest
American Correctional Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Correctional Medical Authority
National Commission on Correctional Health Care
Department of Corrections, 850-488-5021