How to Improve Medication Administration in Correctional Facilities

Mar 12, 2024

medication administration in correctional facilities

Physical and mental health plays a pivotal role in inmate rehabilitation. For some inmates, medication is an important part of their overall health and wellbeing. However, medication administration in correctional facilities comes with challenges, including the risk of medication diversion and complexities with monitoring and adherence. Ensuring inmates receive the correct medication in the right dose at the right time can be challenging. Add thorough documentation of medication administration and timely incident response and training to the list, and the task can become downright daunting.

The Challenges of Medication Administration in Correctional Facilities

Medication Diversion by Inmates

Medication diversion within correctional facilities presents a significant concern, as it not only jeopardizes inmate health but also poses security risks. Techniques such as cheeking, regurgitating, and other inventive methods are employed by some inmates to divert prescribed medications for non-medical use or black market distribution.

To ensure safe medication delivery and prevent diversion, multidisciplinary teams including medical and correctional facility staff must implement robust strategies and techniques, such as: 

  • Dual mouth-checks, performed by both correctional and medical staff
  • Dedicated medication lines, dispersal windows, and observation tables 
  • Drug testing to confirm the inmates receiving treatment are taking doses as advised
  • Crush, liquefy, or mix medications with other fluids to reduce the risk of cheeking or regurgitation
  • Require that inmates consume food or liquids after medication dispensation

Incomplete Medication Administration Information 

Many correctional facilities lack visibility into detailed medication administration insights due to dated inmate monitoring practices or difficult-to-use inmate monitoring tools. Thorough, complete documentation is required to not only ensure safe medication administration practices, but also to improve the coordination and oversight of the medication administration protocols in the future. 

Inmate tracking systems, like JailCore’s, can simplify the medication administration process in prisons, increasing efficiency for administrators and safety for inmates. By alerting officers to inmates requiring medication, JailCore ensures timely and accurate delivery. Electronic signature collection allows for efficient acceptance or rejection of medications, minimizing administrative burden and reducing errors.  

One of the standout features of JailCore’s technology is its automatic creation of a Medication Administration Record (MAR). This digital record tracks which medications were dispensed, refused, or missed, providing a transparent and accountable system. By providing real-time data on medication administration, JailCore’s technology allows correctional facilities to identify trends, monitor compliance, and address potential issues proactively.

Training & Incident Response

Effective response protocols and ongoing staff training are essential for addressing incidents of medication diversion and ensuring compliance with medication management practices. 

When medication diversion or an error in medication administration does occur, a timely after-incident review should be conducted and corrective actions taken. Important information, such as who was involved, how the incident occurred, and what processes allowed the incident to happen must be filed in a report for review. Furthermore, extensive training for both correctional facility staff and medical providers detailing the medication administration and security protocols should be completed and updated regularly.

Ways to Improve Medication Administration in Correctional Facilities


Jail technology offers a cost-effective and comprehensive solution to improve medication administration practices in correctional facilities. By making complete, timely documentation easier for correctional staff and organizing medication administration data in a clear, intuitive way, jails can prevent improper or unsafe medication administration practices. They can also use that data for better training and process improvement to further mitigate risk and reduce inmate harm. 

Ongoing Training

Detailed documentation is the key to effective training. Consider assigning a dedicated staff member to ensure medication administration protocols are up-to-date, lead the medication administration training program, and improve inmate medication administration practices, when necessary. Assign support staff, including those both inside the jail and community partners, to assist with training and education.

The administration of medication in correctional facilities is a multifaceted endeavor that demands careful attention and innovative solutions. With the right combination of technology, documentation, and training, sheriffs, wardens, and jail administrators can overcome the challenges posed by medication diversion in prisons and the risks associated with the practice.