Nurses have been described as the backbone of correctional health care. They are the eyes, ears, hands, heads and hearts that respond to medical and mental health emergencies. During daily sick call and other routine healthcare encounters correctional nurses listen to any patient’s health concern and watchfully encourage others who are unable or unwilling to raise a health concern. Nurses must apply their knowledge, skill and ability to the assessment and diagnosis of the full range of health conditions presented by this population and determine both the urgency and priority of subsequent care. Nurses are often the primary gatekeeper to other health care professionals in the correctional setting. Chapters devoted to health screening, medical emergencies, sick call and dental care describe how nurses identify, respond to and manage these health concerns in the correctional setting.
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