Name: Jeffrey E. Keller, MD
Location: Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Specialty: Emergency Medicine.
All right welcome back. Here’s a quick trivia question, which group of US patients are constitutionally guaranteed access to free medical care? And no this is not a trick question. The answer…prisoners.
Today we’re jumping into an area of medicine few, if any of us, know much about. Let’s be honest, how many of you out there have even seen the inside of a prison of jail? Not many, we guess. Criminal records and professional medical licensing don’t mix well.
For those of you who’ve been with us for awhile, you know this isn’t a political program. I say this because I’m going to read a few stats here. Don’t worry, we’re not gearing up for a policy discussion on prison reform. It is an important issue, but outside the scope of our conversation today.
As of 2016, there were 2.1 million people incarcerated in the US. That makes us the world leader both in the total number incarcerated and a per-capita incarceration rate (655 per 100,000). That rate beats everyone, even places like China, North Korea, Russia, Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. As of 2015, the US population represented only 4.4% of the global population, while we held a whopping 21% of the global prison population.
We’re reading these stats to show just how big US prison medicine is. That’s over two million people who are constitutionally guaranteed free medical care. Just imagine how many doctors, nurses and other medical professionals it takes to deliver that amount of care. Today’s guest is one of them.
Dr. Jeffery Keller is emergency medicine physician. After 23 years working in a busy trauma center, Keller got a call from the local jail. They needed help. Working in prison didn’t sound very appealing, so he politely declined. Six months later they called again. This time he reluctantly agreed, but only temporarily. Then a funny thing happened, Keller actually started to enjoy his work seeing and treating inmates. So began a new path in Keller’s career. A path through a largely unknown area of medicine that we’re going to explore today. With that said, let’s get started.
Resources and More:
Supreme Court Ruling: https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/429/97
Dr. Keller’s path towards prison medicine: https://www.medpagetoday.com/blogs/doing-time/71759
Most dangerous inmate in US? http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1393970.stm
Dr. Keller’s Website: http://www.jailmedicine.com/
American College of Correctional Physicians (ACCP): https://accpmed.org/
New Yorker Article on Prison Healthcare: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/03/04/the-jail-health-care-crisis
Bureau of Justice Statistics: https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=dcdetail&iid=261
Selection of Dr. Keller’s articles: