The Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) created its Correctional Medicine Committee in 1975 – following the prison riots in Attica, New York, and just before the Georgia state prison system was placed under the jurisdiction of the federal courts for maintaining health care facilities that violated a constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.
MAG was charged with “studying and recommending ways to improve the delivery of health care in Georgia non-federal prisons.” It developed standards for evaluating health care in jails and prisons in the state as part of a national initiative, which evolved into the standards that are now used by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
In 1982, MAG developed legislation that resulted in an accreditation system for the health care programs at correctional facilities in Georgia. The state began funding the system in 1983.
The Medical College of Georgia (which is now part of Augusta University) assumed responsibility for the health services contract for state prisons in 1997. Augusta University’s Georgia Correctional HealthCare division now provides health care services at more than 60 Georgia Department of Corrections facilities.
MAG surveys health care programs at 15 county jails, 35 state prisons, and one state institution (Helms) that cares for pregnant and “medically challenged” patients (e.g., postoperative, oncology, hospice). MAG surveys each facility every three years – and it completes an annual accreditation maintenance report for every facility during the interim years.
MAG is credited with addressing major deficiencies at jails and prisons in the state, including those that have been related to…
- Physician and nurse licensure
- Physician and nurse CPR/ACLS certification
- Expired pharmaceuticals
- Needle and narcotics security
- Nurse call systems
- Inmate physicals
- Mandatory CQI and infection control meetings