San Diego jails’ medically vulnerable get health monitoring – Los Angeles Times

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is launching a pilot program that will outfit 10 of the downtown Central Jail’s most medically at-risk people with a health-monitoring device.

The goal is to reduce in-custody deaths, which have plagued the department for years. A state audit released in February found that San Diego jails had the highest mortality rate among California’s largest counties, and already this year they have logged a record number of deaths.

4Sight Labs, which created the devices, will provide them to the department at a cost of $1,000 each. Biosensors in the devices will work similarly to commercial fitness trackers, monitoring the vital signs and movement of people deemed the jail’s most medically vulnerable.


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In a video interview posted to 4Sight Labs’ website, Cmdr. Shawn C. Laughlin from the Broomfield, Colo., Police Department, credited the devices with saving the lives of three people in custody — two who had overdosed on drugs and one experiencing complications from diabetes. Laughlin said the sensors are placed on a person’s ankle, and alerts are delivered via an iPad that’s always within an officer’s sight.

“Our policy protocol is to treat it just like a [medical emergency] alarm,” Laughlin explained.

In a media release, the sheriff’s department said no incarcerated people will be forced to participate in the pilot program. For those who do consent, the device will alert staff to any changes in their vital signs.

The devices are more costly than commercial health trackers because they must be tamper-proof and not post a security risk to the wearer or jail staff. The department said it’s still working on addressing challenges such as how best to recharge a device’s battery.

Sheriff’s spokesperson Lt. Amber Baggs said in an email that the department has not decided on an official launch date.

“We want to make sure our deputies and medical staff …….


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