The most common medical problems treated in correctional facilities aren't necessarily from accidents or fights, as many may think. Rather, they include a variety of both chronic and infectious diseases.
Heart diseases, cancer, liver diseases and AIDS/AIDS-related illnesses are the most common causes of inmate deaths in state correctional facilities. In fact, AIDS rates in the prison population are 2.5 times greater than in the general U.S. population [sources: Mumola; Maruschak]. Outside of the prison population, for comparison, heart diseases and cancer are also the top two causes of death, but they are followed by stroke and respiratory diseases [source: CDC].
"We see a high rate of HIV infections, tuberculosis infections, STDs [sexually transmitted diseases], MRSA [Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus] -- and substance abuse is very common in the correctional setting," explains Bonaparte. "It's a challenging day-to-day job for many reasons. Not only medical issues, but psychosocial issues, as well."