The Potential of a Medical Legal Partnership to Improve the Health of a 17 year old Patient with Undiagnosed Intellectual Disability




Jethro, Sarah
Raines-Milenkov, Amy


0000-0002-5335-5839 (Jethro, Sarah)

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Background: Medical legal partnerships (MLP) foster equity and addresses Social Determinants of Health through legal advocacy and expertise. MLPs educate medical professionals on the legal rights of individuals with intellectual disabilities concerning medical services. Implementation of an MLP program in the pediatric setting could address the unmet need for a school evaluation. A related model, medical legal psychological partnerships (MLPP) add the benefit of psychological expertise to address school-related mental health needs. Here we apply the MLP and MLPP model to a single case. Case: The case is a 17-year-old girl who was admitted to a children's hospital for pain control and hydration post-tonsillectomy. She had a clinical suspicion of Autism and Bipolar disorder. This was believed to contribute to a three-year delay in her formal school education. The patient and her mother presented with multiple gaps in her care related to social determinants of health and health literacy. These included difficulties communicating pain level, comprehending therapy goals, and inappropriate expectations of recovery. Conclusions: If the patient presented in this case had access to an MLP or an MLPP she would have been able to access testing and treatment services resulting in an individualized education plan, receive medical and psychological treatment, as well as school-based behavior plan. MLP can be effective in removing barriers to care by addressing structural problems at the root of health inequities. MLPP's are effective at addressing complex needs with the goal of achieving equity.