Collaborative Diagnosis: Interdisciplinary Problem-Solving Between Physicians and Lawyers

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International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Patient and client-centered practice and accurate problem diagnosis require that we understand the context within which the patient/clients’ problem originated. Effective problem solving depends upon context-specific solutions. This article describes the interaction of a medical clinician/educator and two legal clinicians/educators who work and teach together as part of an interdisciplinary community collaboration. We demonstrate how a pediatric hospital and two medical schools that treat acutely and chronically ill children collaborate with a legal services clinic based in a law school to provide interdisciplinary clinical education for students and engage in interdisciplinary problem solving for the benefit of patients and clients. Pediatric residents and medical students partner with law students, as well as treating physicians to evaluate and interpret case facts and develop strategies for addressing patient/client problems. A case study demonstrates the opportunities for interdisciplinary problem solving among the collaborators and the benefits of viewing patient/client issues through the lens of other disciplines. The article describes how the medical and legal professions each view a particular case scenario, and how professionals can work together to diagnose and treat a problem, thereby addressing the social determinants of health and wellness that affect the patient/client. A physician can provide better care when he/she understands the legal issues faced by the parent and how those issues can impact the family’s ability to access health care or to follow a care plan. Likewise, a lawyer representing a parent with a sick child can be a better advocate when he/she understands the patient’s medical diagnoses and needs.


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Recommended Citation

Robert Pettignano, Lisa Bliss, & Sylvia Caley, Collaborative Diagnosis: Interdisciplinary Problem-solving Between Physicians and Lawyers, 2 Int'l J. Health Wellness & Soc'y, no. 2, 2013, at 37.







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