People with ID More Likely to Experience Complications when Hospitalized

Sarah Ailey, PhD
Rush University

People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are more likely to have complications when hospitalized than people without ID who are hospitalized for the same reasons. Complications include unintended infections, skin breakdown, falls, and medication errors.

What did you do in your research?
We reviewed the charts of 70 people with ID who were hospitalized at one hospital over a two-year period. Data review examined complications, as well as patient and hospitalization characteristics in relation to complications among adults with ID hospitalized for nonpsychiatric reasons.

What did you find out?
When hospitalized, people with ID tended to be twice as likely to have complications or potentially avoidable conditions (as people without ID) if they had a surgical procedure and were nearly four times as likely to have complications if they had multiple chronic health conditions (three of the following: cerebral palsy, autism spectrum symptoms, aggressive behavior, respiratory disorder, and admission through the emergency department).

What are the take-home messages?
Health care professionals at hospitals need to do a better job at checking for risk of complications when people with ID are hospitalized and need to pay more attention to their specific needs in order to avoid potential complications.

To learn more about these findings or about ongoing programs to improve hospital care of people with intellectual disabilities contact Sarah Ailey.

Full Journal Article
Ailey, S. H., Johnson, T. J., Fogg, L., & Friese, T. R. (2015). Factors related to complications among adult patients with intellectual disabilities hospitalized at an academic medical center. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 53(2), 114-119.

Comprehensive Program to Support Patients and Staff Improves Hospital Experience for Adult Patients With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities