Medical and Mental Health Grievance Procedure

Information about the medical and mental health grievance process is below.

If you are in a county jail or house of correction, this procedure does not apply to you. You should follow the procedure for medical grievances in place at your facility if there is one available.

Below is the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Health Care (MPCH) medical grievance procedure which is in place in the state prison system. If you are having problems receiving medical care or feel that you are not receiving proper care you can file a medical grievance. Please pay special attention to the timelines below.   Please be aware that in order to preserve your right to sue about inadequate medical care, medical malpractice or any other problem specifically related to medical care you must file a medical grievance and follow through with all levels of the grievance appeals process. You can find the grievance form/appeal here.


MPCH Medical Grievance Procedure

The MPCH grievance procedure has 3 levels:

  • Level 1. Staff Access (Happy Hour) (or writing an informal letter to the Health Services Administrator (HSA), if you cannot get to staff access because you are in segregation or have a disability, or if no one from medical staff attends staff access)
  • Level 2. Formal grievances to the Health Services Adminstratior (HSA) at your institution using the sick call box
  • Level 3. Appeals of Formal Grievances to MPCH Grievance and Appeal Coordinator


Informal Process/Staff Access/Happy Hour

You must bring your medical concerns to Staff Access and speak with HSA or designee. You may be asked to return to the next Staff Access in order to give the HSA time to respond to the complaint. This step is required before filing a formal written grievance.


Formal Grievance

You must file a medical grievance within 10 working days (weekdays, not including holidays) of the incident or situation you are complaining of, you “becoming aware of the incident or situation,” or you receive a verbal response at Staff Access, whichever is later is the date you should use to start the 10 working days.

If you think you may have missed the deadline, file the grievance anyway, as soon as possible. The HSA may waive the deadline for filing a grievance, and even if the HSA does not do so, you may have arguments that you can raise in your grievance appeal about why the grievance is timely.

To file, fill out the MPCH Inmate Grievance and Appeal Form and address it to the HSA. You can file it by putting it in the sick slip box or using the prison mail system or handing it to health services staff doing rounds if you are in segregation. You should keep a copy for your records. If you cannot obtain a photocopy, fill out a second grievance form at the same time, making it identical to the one that you submit. Keep this second original form for your records.

Your grievance must be in the format required by the policy or it will be returned to you. You should receive a response within 10 working days. If you do not receive a response to your grievance within 10 working days, you should treat a non-response as a denial of the grievance and file an appeal to the MPCH Grievance and Appeals Coordinator.


Appeal to MPCH Grievance and Appeals Coordinator

Appeals must be submitted within 10 working days of receiving a response from HSA. MPCH has 30 working days to respond to your appeal. In order to appeal the decision of MPCH (or the lack of a response), you must send your appeal directly to:

Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare (MPCH)
110 Turnpike Road, Suite308
Westborough, MA 01581


Laws that Require Prisoners to File Grievances

Both state and federal law require that prisoners suing about any incident or thing that happens in prison must first “exhaust administrative remedies” by using available grievance and other remedies before filing suit. Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. §1997e, and M.G.L. c. 127, §38F. If you file suit regarding non-emergency medical care without filing a medical grievance first, the court will likely dismiss the suit.

Emergency Medical Care

You should alert DOC staff immediately if you are having a medical emergency. Do not wait for the grievance procedure to receive emergency medical attention. You are, of course, free to file a grievance after the emergency has passed.

What Remedy Should You Request?

In cases where you want treatment, testing, or something else to happen (e.g., specific medication, diagnosis of a medical condition, an x-ray or MRI) ask for that thing to happen. In cases where you have been permanently harmed or damaged and you would like to seek money as compensation request “monetary damages.” You do not have to request a specific amount of money. Although the grievance authorities will state that they do not award monetary damages through the grievance process, you must still file a grievance and all available appeals before you can file a lawsuit.