People with intellectual disabilities (ID) represent a small but important group of hospitalized patients who have higher rates of complications than do patients without ID hospitalized for the same reasons. Complications are potentially avoidable conditions, such as healthcare-acquired infections, healthcare-acquired skin breakdown, falls, and medication errors and reactions. Addressing factors related to complications can focus efforts to improve hospital care. The purpose of this exploratory study was to analyze data from reviews of academic medical center charts (N = 70) about complications and to examine patient and hospitalization characteristics in relation to complications among adult patients (age ≥ 18 years) with ID hospitalized for nonpsychiatric reasons. Adults with ID tended to be twice as likely to have complications (χ2 = 2.893, df = 1, p = .09) if they had a surgical procedure and were nearly four times as likely to have complications (χ2 = 6.836, df = 1, p = .009) if they had multiple chronic health conditions (three of the following: history of cerebral palsy, autism spectrum symptoms, aggressive behavior, respiratory disorder, and admission through the emergency department). Findings suggest preliminary criteria for assessing risk for complications among hospitalized people with ID and the need for attention to their specific needs when hospitalized.
Keywords: complications; hospitalization; intellectual disabilities.