Discharge Planning - National Commission on Correctional Health Care

Discharge Planning

The intent of the standard is that “patients’ health needs are met during transition to a community health care professional.” So, if one of the needs is medication, the intent would be that the inmate have a sufficient supply to be able to continue taking the medication until seen by a community provider.

A written prescription is sufficient only if the provider knows that the patient has the ability to have it filled immediately upon discharge. The provider must be sure that the patient has the money (not that next week he will be eligible for Medicaid or other assistance) and the means (transportation, etc.) to get to a pharmacy that will fill the prescription. For example, the facility can transport the discharged patient to a designated community pharmacy, or provide money for a cab or bus along with instructions on how to get to the pharmacy. The jail may have an account with the pharmacy so that the prescription is billed to the jail, not the patient.

Thus, a facility giving written prescriptions would be in compliance with this important standard only if the financial and access issues are addressed. In our view, it is much easier to make a postdischarge medical appointment for the patient and to provide enough medication to last until that appointment.

— From CorrectCare Volume 20, Issue 3, Summer 2006; updated February 2010