April 2025: Surgical Care of Incarcerated Patients

The United States incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. Developing and maintaining clinically and ethically appropriate surgical care for incarcerees requires clinicians, health care organizations, and governments to actively resist historically entrenched patterns of devaluing incarcerees’ humanity and personhood. Neglect of carceral patients’ surgical care needs remains systematized to the persistent detriment of incarcerees’ perioperative and surgical care, recovery, outcomes, and overall health. Carceral surgical patients’ risk/benefit profiles must be contextualized at every stage of their care by their diminished legal agency, restricted physical liberty, and increased environmental risk for a wide range of abuse and trauma. Carceral surgical patients’ vulnerabilities can also be exacerbated by uncertainty or conflict about the scope and applicability of state authority relative to clinicians’ authority, which can manifest in fraught interactions among clinicians, law enforcement and security personnel, and carceral facility employees tasked with monitoring incarcerees outside carceral settings.

We invite manuscripts for the April 2025 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics® that address ethically and clinically complex questions about care of incarcerated individuals who require surgical interventions. Manuscripts may address a range of topics about surgical needs of carceral patients, including but not limited to the cost-intensive and acute nature of these patients’ surgical care, their limited or delayed access to specialists and standard perioperative care, and their inequitably increased risk of complications. We also welcome manuscripts about whether and how abused and traumatized carceral patients’ short- and long-term care needs should be regarded differently—from clinical, ethical, and legal standpoints—than their chronic care needs.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 30 May 2024.

The AMA Journal of Ethics invites original, English-language contributions for peer review consideration on the upcoming themes.