Obliged to treat a prisoner!

Note: An image and quote has been added to my blog post. My videos are included in the post. I have proof read it and corrected the grammatical errors. References were looked at again. A new reference was added on how to handle situations like this.

The human right to health care defined that hospitals, clinics, medicines, and health care professionals’ services must be accessible, available, acceptable, and good quality for any individual seeking any of these (NESRI, 2016). Health care professionals must respect medical ethic principles and codes, and protect patient confidentiality. Health care must be provided without discrimination based on health status, race, ethnicity, age, sex, sexuality, disability, language, religion, national origin, income, or social status (NESRI, 2016). Non-discrimination is a key ethic principle in human rights (WHO, 2007). All individuals have the right to equality and fairness.

Health professionals who work in prisons have a unique role in health promotion. They must start from the basis of professional training in which issues such as confidentiality, patient rights and human rights have been fully discussed (Møller et al, 2007). Prisoners should have some knowledge of epidemiology, of how diseases are spread and of how lifestyles and socioeconomic background factors can influence health. They should also be aware of nutrition and the importance of exercise in promoting health (Møller et al, 2007). They should know the potential threats to their health and be able to detect early signs of mental health problems (Møller et al, 2007). The heath professionals are resposible in ensuring that prisoners are aware of this. Furthermore, prisoners must be treated equally to that of a non-prisoner.

This topic often comes up in the class setting regarding treating a prisoner. I have not yet experienced this myself in a clinical setting; however hearing from my peers of their experiences has got me thinking about how I would react in treating a prisoner. It is interesting to me how my peers are so divided on this topic as some of them say that it does not affect their attitude and behavior toward the patient, as well as their physiotherapy management; yet others say they often find themselves judging and discriminating against their patient and therefore it affects their treatment and attitude toward the patient. Although we may not know what the patient has done prior to going to prison, just the thought of this patient acting against the law and possibly harming another being scares me. Yes, prisoners have the right to health services and equal treatment but many of us health professionals let our feelings and emotions influence our attitude and behavior toward them. We are obliged to treat prisoners against some of our wills. In understanding the difference between judgement and discrimination, judgment involves an emotional reaction to things as they are; whereas discrimination sees the truth but remains calm and impersonal about it. To judge someone is to make yourself responsible for another person’s spiritual well-being, and to make your happiness dependent on how that person behaves. To discriminate is simply to see things as they are.

“Education is important because, first of all, people need to know that discrimination still exists. It is still real in the workplace, and we should not take that for granted.”- Alexis Herman.


If or when I see a patient as such; I have an idea of how I may react. I would too, be judgmental and discriminate against my patient, and it will most likely influence my attitude and behavior toward the patient. Knowing this is wrong of me as his/her health care professional; it is only human to react in this way. I am an individual who is in touch with my emotions and I often wear my feelings on my sleeve; therefore it is something I believe I need to work on improving as a physiotherapist before I qualify.


Møller, L., Stöver, H., Jürgens, R., Gatherer, A., & Nikogosian, H. (2007). Health in prisons.The essentials. Retrieved from http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/99018/E90174.pdf

NESRI. (2016). What is the Human Right to Health and Health Care? Retrieved August 10, 2016, from http://www.nesri.org/programs/what-is-the-human-right-to-health-and-health-care

WHO. (2007). The Right to Health. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 1-52. Retrieved from http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/Factsheet31.pdf






3 Replies to “Obliged to treat a prisoner!”

  1. Hi Teagz

    Treating prisoners is never really an easy task, especially when it goes against your moral and ethical principles. I have been in a situation like and I would suggest that is you can not cope with treating a patient of the magnitude then feel obliged to ask another colleague in the same profession that can handle the situation better than yourself. Therefore you do not have to treat the patient and the patient still gets the adequate treatment he deserves.

    What you can improve on:
    -Add in more references referring to journal articles about these types of situations in the workplace (This could enhance and support your viewpoint)
    – Small grammatical errors here and there so just be cautious
    – Possibly add a picture or two with a quote or caption too add some flavor to your post

    Good post champion


  2. Hi Teagan

    Thank you for your post. It is somewhat difficult working with prisoners, especially when it is disclosed why the patient is imprisoned. Each and every individual has their own way in dealing with this situation and I strongly believe that curricula should include attitude and conflict management training to prepare future healthcare professions.

    Some comments for improvement:
    Understanding that you have not dealt with such an situation yet, I would suggest you investigate strategies to deal with similar situations and reflect on it. Not only will this enhance the post, but you argument may be improved as you may also better understand the reactions of the parties involved. Including more references would be good, especially on strategies to deal with these situations. Also keep in mind that you have to reference any literature-related facts and pay attention to the APA reference style. Do pay attention to minor grammatical errors, and maybe ask someone to proofread your post. With regards to technology, I would suggest that you include the videos as part of the actual post and not at the end after the reference list. Readers would then also be more engaged in the post. Some pictures to illustrate the scenario or concepts would also be good.


  3. Hi Teagan

    I remember reading a blog posted by Ameriah where she had to treat a prisoner. Approaching the patient she already had preconceived ideas about what kind of person he might be. As she was communicating with the patient she found that he was respectful and well mannered. I too have encountered a similar experience. With all my preconceived ideas about what kind of person this might be, to my astonishment I also found this prisoner to be well mannered and respectful.

    Since you stated that you still lack this experience it would help you a lot to look at some literature for dealing with these kinds of situations. You can discuss this with some of your colleges who have this experience and listen to how they approached the situation. Instead of posting you videos at the end of your post, use it rather within your post to help strengthen your argument. There were some grammatical and referencing errors.

    All in all it was a good read and I enjoyed it thank you.


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