Many medical and legal professionals understand how important medical-legal partnership (MLP) is when it comes to improving patient and community well-being, and research continues to enhance this understanding. Now, with a remarkable new study, a team from Cincinnati has added considerably to the literature about the importance—and success—of the MLP model.
In their article published in Health Affairs on March 8, 2022, Andrew Beck, Adrienne Henize, TingTing Qiu, Bin Huang, Yin Zhang, Melissa Klein, Donita Parrish, Elaine Fink, and Robert Kahn suggest how the Cincinnati Child Health-Law Partnership, or Child HeLP, program may have contributed to a 37.9% decrease in hospitalization in the children who received legal intervention.
“I already couldn’t imagine practicing without the support and advocacy of legal partners,” says Beck, an Attending Physician in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the medical partner of the Child HeLP program. “Now, we have evidence that improved legal conditions are matched by better clinical outcomes.”
Child HeLP, the partnership between Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, was established in 2008 and, since then, the hospital has referred thousands of patients for legal assistance. The legal team then addresses some of the patients’ legal and law-related social needs—such as unsafe housing or delays in SNAP benefits—which can directly impact patient health.
“When we started, it was a critical response to an urgent need. We’ve certainly found that we are stronger together,” says Fink who is the Managing Attorney of the Legal Aid Society’s Children and Education Practice Group.
Beck agrees. “This suggests to me that partnerships which direct attention, and action, towards social, environmental, and legal influences on health, should be a consistent part of the care we provide. They can help us achieve the excellent and equitable outcomes we seek.”
Learn more about their extraordinary results in Health Affairs.