Doctors and lawyers collaborating to HeLP children--outcomes from a successful partnership between professions

J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013 Aug;24(3):1063-73. doi: 10.1353/hpu.2013.0147.


Background: Clear associations exist between socioeconomic risks and health, and these risks are often amenable to legal interventions.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusion: Successful MLP implementation enabled pediatric providers to address social determinants of health potentially improving health and reducing disparities.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Lawyers*
  • Male
  • Medically Underserved Area
  • Ohio
  • Organizational Case Studies
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pediatrics*
  • Physicians, Primary Care*
  • Program Development / methods
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data