Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Over 20 Billion Served

I got my 2006 statistics today. Coincidentally, my facility also had its annual surprise state audit today so the numbers came in handy. I have seen 10% more patients this year than last year at just one of my many work sites. I see as many patients in a given year as some small regional hospitals admit. Just out of curiosity I sat down and ran some numbers using very very conservative estimates, and I figured that over the time since I've finished my training I have treated at least 35,100 inmates.

I wasn't planning to blog about this, except that over at JR's Thumbprints recently he was posting about his recent audit and his prison system's factory approach to education. He was exactly right---how do you know what numbers are 'right'? If I see 3000 patients a year am I a better correctional clinician than someone who 'only' sees 1000 patients a year? What if there are actually 6000 inmates who need to be seen? Or only 500? Are we missing our target or overshooting?

The emphasis shouldn't be solely on the size of your clinic (although to be fair many correctional systems probably can't even give you an estimate about that) but it should also include measures of how long it takes someone to get seen once they're identified as needing treatment, how well they are tracked through the correctional system and how well the system is able to identify returning patients. There's just more to good quality control statistics than caseload size.

To quote that old Wendy's commercial: "Where's the beef?" My beef is here---with the numbers.