By: Melissa D. Klein et al. Published by: Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. Published in August 2013
Clear associations exist between socioeconomic risks and health, and these risks are often amenable to legal interventions.
This is a case study of an implementation of a medical-legal partnership (MLP) in three pediatric primary care centers that serve a predominantly high-risk population. Referral circumstances and outcomes over the first three years are described.
During the three-year study period, 1,808 MLP referrals were made for 1,614 patients by all levels of provider. Those referred were more likely to have asthma (p<.0001) and developmental delay/behavioral disorder (p<.0001) than the general clinic population. Housing (37%) and income/health benefit (33%) problems were the most common reasons for referral. Referrals led to 1,742 (89%) positive legal outcomes affecting nearly 6,000 cohabitating children and adults and translating into nearly $200,000 in recovered back benefits.
Successful MLP implementation enabled pediatric providers to address social determinants of health potentially improving health and reducing disparities.