Prison cases hard to swallow

2010-04-22 22:32
Cape Town - Inmates who deliberately swallow lengths of wire and items such as screws and toothbrushes, present a "troublesome" challenge to prison doctors, according to a report in the latest SA Medical Journal.

The report, based on a study of medical records of 1 112 prisoners at the Mangaung maximum security prison outside Bloemfontein, was authored by University of the Free State surgeon Professor Samuel Smit and Mangaung clinic manager Frans Kleinhans.

They found that over a five-year period there had been 45 incidents of swallowing foreign objects, although Smit explained that most of them were repeat swallowings by individuals.

The record for an inmate was 24 separate incidents of "foreign body ingestion" over three years.

The most common objects swallowed were lengths of wire and screws which would show up on X-rays, Smit and Kleinhans said in the journal.

"Inmates favour radio-opaque objects because they want proof of their actions," they said.

"Sometimes the sharp ends of wires or screws were bent over or covered with plastic before being swallowed.

"Swallowing is done as a circus artist swallows a sword."

They said some of the items that prisoners swallowed, such as pins, glass, short nails and screws, might pass through the prisoner's entire digestive system without causing problems.

In other cases, forceps, an endoscope or surgical removal were necessary.

"Although representing a small proportion of the consultations, the deliberate swallowing of foreign objects by inmates remains a troublesome, time-consuming and emotional situation," they said.

Swallowing items appeared to be the "surgical equivalent" of a hunger strike; a challenge to the system.

Once prisoners became adjusted to prison life, they stopped this practice.

Smit, who is a contract surgeon at the prison, said some of the cases he had encountered were "really surprising".

"How they get these things down, I don't know," he said.

Read more on:    health and safety  |  prisons

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24

 
SPONSORED CONTENT
The best-kept secrets of electric cars

The secret day-to-day benefits of driving an electric car.

/News
 

Top 10 richest musicians of all time

Check out the gallery to find out who they are!

 
 

Luxury living

10 of the most expensive things that will leave your jaw hanging!
Seven of the most expensive children's toys ever made
5 millionaires turned murderers
The youngest billionaires in the world and how they made it
Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a tendency towards setting your expectations too high which will result in disappointment. Try not to let your thoughts...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.