Department of Correction initiates review of correctional healthcare system

Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) Commissioner Claire DeMatteis announced this week that the department had initiated an independent review of its medical and behavioral healthcare systems as it seeks recommendations to strengthen clinical quality, patient safety and data management practices.

The DOC, through its Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services, is responsible for contracting medical and behavioral health services in all of its Level V (prison) and Level IV (work-release and violation-of-probation) facilities and behavioral health services provided to individuals on probation after their release from incarceration.

Christiana Care Health System has agreed to provide the independent review at no cost to the DOC. Officials noted that while Christiana Care does not have expertise specific to prison care, it had agreed to provide recommendations based on healthcare industry standards for quality and patient safety.

“We are taking additional steps to strengthen our correctional care system to assess how effectively we are meeting clinical quality benchmarks for patient safety, disease management, health promotion and continuity of care for offenders under DOC supervision,” DeMatteis said. “The public should be reassured that Christiana Care has agreed to leverage its deep knowledge and exceptional clinical team to conduct this review and provide best practice recommendations that will help inform decisions about DOC’s correctional health care system going forward.”

“At Christiana Care, we serve our neighbors as respectful, expert, caring partners in their health. We are especially focused on working with partners throughout our community to meet the physical and behavioral health needs of our most vulnerable populations,” said Bettina Tweardy Riveros, Christiana Care chief health equity officer and senior vice president, government affairs and community engagement.

“We are glad to provide our health care expertise to the Department of Correction, and we hope that our recommendations will enable the DOC to ensure the delivery of quality care in its facilities and make a positive impact on the health of our community.”

The six-week review, which will begin the first week in September, will conclude with a written report that provides prospective recommendations on opportunities to enhance clinical quality and safety by adopting best practices regarding workflow management, data and analytics management and support. The DOC will provide the data, documents, information and access to personnel and facilities that is necessary for Christiana Care to perform its work.

Christiana Care’s review will include interviews with DOC staff and contracted medical personnel, site visits and review of policies, procedures and process documentation at DOC facilities. It will also seek to identify opportunities to enhance utilization of clinical data and analytics to facilitate management of chronic medical conditions.

The review may include clinical chart reviews for a random sample of patients, but Christiana Care will not evaluate or make medical assessments or recommendations in individual diagnoses, treatment plans or other medical services made by individual healthcare providers or provided to individual patients.

The Christiana Care review will supplement existing quality-assurance measures employed by the Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services in focus areas of infection prevention, general environment of care, pharmacy and equipment inventory.