Homelessness appears to be a major problem for many emergency department patients

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Housing insecurity is a problem for one in 20 patients who visit the emergency rooms of major medical centers in the Southeast, according to a study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) published in JAMA network opened.

These patients were more likely to present with a chief complaint of suicide, to be uninsured, and to have multiple visits during the study period of January 5 to May 16, 2023.

“This highlights the importance of prioritizing mental health and homeless health teams in hospitals,” said lead author Madeleine Ball, a class of 2024 graduate student at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and 2023-2024 Research Committee Lead for the Homeless Health Service of VUMC. .

“Focusing resources on patients who regularly present to the emergency department can have significant patient impacts. Our study highlights the utility of homelessness screening in all acute care facilities to best tailor care for this sensitive patient population and optimize.”

The study authors examined a total of 23,795 emergency room visits, using data from the Veterans Health Administration. Clinical reminder for homelessness screening to screen for homelessness.

Information from the questionnaire was combined with demographics, method of arrival, diagnoses, acuity, time of presentation, disposition, and insurance status.

A total of 5% (1,185) screened positive for housing insecurity.

Housing instability and homelessness can worsen adverse health outcomes, leading to increased risk of chronic disease, injury and disability, the authors said, but emergency departments currently lack a universal method to identify those at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness experiencing homelessness.

“Now that our team has made screening for housing insecurity in the VUMC ED a common practice, we have several research questions to explore,” Ball said.

“We plan to present a qualitative analysis of the implementation of this new screening process with the goal of answering a broad range of research questions to optimize care for this patient population.”

Senior author Jennifer Hess, MD, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine in VUMC’s Department of Emergency Medicine, said she hopes the analysis will be a call for other institutions to introduce screening and create customized care plans for patients experiencing housing insecurity. experienced.

“This project has contributed to a critical first step in advancing healthcare equity by identifying who can benefit from resources and additional assistance,” Hess said.

“We are grateful for the diverse, multidisciplinary team that made this project possible and look forward to where it can lead. As homelessness and housing insecurity continue to rise across the country, we must make it a priority to improve care for these vulnerable people. and often overlooked patient population.”

More information:
Characteristics and healthcare use of patients with housing insecurity in the emergency department, JAMA network opened (2024).

Provided by Vanderbilt University Medical Center


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