A study by emergency departments (EDs) across the United States is shedding light on a previously unknown risk factor associated with hospitalization and mortality among US people living in homeless shelters.

In a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) researchers at Baylor College of Medicine discovered that 30. 4 percent of respondents (149 respondents) to a 2015-16 national survey for shelter experience a COVID-19-related medical error while 23. 3 percent (144 respondents) reported experiencing an ED related emergency.

The experiences of homelessness may shape ED experience with higher proportions of ED-registered individuals surviving to hospitalization and other hospital outcomes and therefore more susceptible to COVID-19-related loss of life said Dr. Sally Lerche senior author of the report and head of NIMHs Lifeline Epidemiology unit in Austin Texas.

Lerche and co-author of the survey findings; Robert Lawson professor of pharmacy and liquor analysis psychology and action research at University of Missouri; and Andrew Sawaya professors of industrial hygiene and community health sciences at the Baylor College of Medicine conducted both small-scale interviews with staff from the NIMH Aurea Program in order to explore vulnerable individuals ED experiences address questions related to hospitalization and mortality among homeless individuals and explore different approaches to addressing the issue.

In addition to the people surveyed Lerche and co-author learned that 2. 8 percent of survey respondents reported experiencing ED-related emergency at least once in the past year.

They found that 37. 8 percent of respondents reported ever being served seven. 4 percent were responsible for pointing part of their ED to use after-hours and 6. 0 percent were affected by substance abuse or other violence at any point during ED or in at least one shelter.

Understanding the patterns of health and criminal justice resources that overlap and interact in urban and rural areas can inform future efforts to address homelessness said Lerche.

NIMH data showed that shelters are more likely to have staff members who know how to address patients safely typically around the time of birth or sometimes at the time their child returns home.

More than 90 percent of homeless respondents in the survey reported not having facilities to help them get better.

Our study findings underscore the need for greater resources to address this neglected group said Lerche a member of NIMHs HIPAA Working Group. Similar to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and other states we now have access to more comprehensive resources that transgender patients can self-identify as appropriate under HIPPA and have a comprehensive continuum of care to help them stay on their feet for the rest of their lives.