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Legal Needs and Medical Legal Partnerships

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Abstract

A health-harming legal need arises when a patient’s health is negatively impacted by the violation of his or her rights that impact one or more of the social determinants of health (SDOH). Examples include eviction, poor housing conditions, improper denial/termination of Medicaid or food stamps, and unfair employment practices. Without specific screening tools and training, it is difficult for the healthcare team to recognize that these social risks are actually rooted in legal needs. When identified, these needs are best addressed by referral to a lawyer. Medical legal partnerships (MLPs) are a mechanism to address legal needs within the healthcare system that integrates a lawyer and legal team into the healthcare team to address patients’ health-harming legal needs. The team can be consulted for a legal problem, much as any other consultant is called when a problem in their area of expertise is identified. Through legal advocacy, the MLP attempts to meet patients’ needs with the goal of improving health. Advocacy can range from simple advice and counsel to written advocacy to full representation in a lawsuit. When truly integrated, the legal team functions as a specialist service working in tandem with social workers and case managers, allowing each team member to function at the top of their license with fluid interdisciplinary referrals as they identify different patient needs. Addressing health-harming legal needs improves patients’ physical and mental health outcomes.

Keywords

  • Medical legal partnership
  • Health-harming legal needs
  • Legal services

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Fig. 17.1

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Hsieh, D. (2021). Legal Needs and Medical Legal Partnerships. In: Alter, H.J., Dalawari, P., Doran, K.M., Raven, M.C. (eds) Social Emergency Medicine. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-65672-0_17

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-65672-0_17

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