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.