Medical-Legal Partnerships: A Healing Collaboration

Consult Pharm. 2018 Feb 1;33(2):66-74. doi: 10.4140/TCP.n.2018.66.


Medical providers know that there are some conditions they can't treat because the condition is caused or exacerbated by social conditions and are known as "social determinants of health." ThIs classic example-a patient has asthma, lives in a moldor cockroach-infested apartment, has no resources to move, and has a landlord who refuses to clean or exterminate bugs- exemplifies why patients need legal advocates to improve their health. This article discusses medical-legal partnerships (MLPs), models in which medical providers refer patients to attorneys to represent them to resolve such problems. MLPs recognize social determinants of health and foster collaboration between attorneys and health care providers. Originally developed to advocate for children, many MLPs now focus on the vulnerable elderly, individuals at the end of life, and veterans. As these collaborations grow, it's important to spread the word among health care providers and to engage all collaborators. Today, more than 300 MLPs across the nation have documented remarkable achievements. The authors hope that in the future, pharmacists will become MLP team members and help patients address many of their medication-related problems.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Health Personnel / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Jurisprudence*
  • Lawyers*
  • Pharmacists / organization & administration
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Vulnerable Populations