Emergency Care

What is the problem?

Individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) visit the emergency department (ED) three to four times more often than the general population. Previous research by the H-CARDD program shows that they often leave the ED without a formal crisis prevention and management plan and that they have difficulty following up in the community. In addition, hospital staff often lack knowledge of DD, which prevents them from providing the best possible care. These factors are likely contributors to the high rates of repeated ED use by people with DD.

How is H-CARDD helping?

The H-CARDD program aims to work with our partner EDs, along with community agencies, and people with DD and their caregivers, to develop and share tools and information that can be used when a person with DD comes to the ED. Examples may include communication aids for patients, staff education, development of new departmental protocols, and discharge packages for patients. The tools and information will support staff as they assess, treat, and discharge people with DD, while also enabling people with DD to be more involved in their health care. To read more about the tools and information, please visit the Health Care Resources page.

Identifying potential barriers to the uptake of new tools and novel methods that help distribute best practices to front-line ED staff is a major goal of H-CARDD.

The H-CARDD program is in keeping with Ontario's Action Plan for Health Care (2012), which notes that Ontarians are making visits to the emergency department that can be avoided.

For more information, please contact:

Yona Lunsky, PhD., C. Psych

Scientist, Department of Emergency Medicine, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Phone: 416 535 8501, Ext. 37813
Email: yona.lunsky@camh.ca


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H-CARDD Conversations

Learn what experts Dr. Howard Ovens from Mount Sinai Hospital, and Heather Campbell of Quinte Health Care have to say about this research.

Read the full interview and join the conversation.

More information

Summary: get a quick overview of this study in the research snapshot Improving Emergency Care for People with Developmental Disabilities. Snapshots are easy to understand two page summaries of H-CARDD research findings.

Emergency Care Toolkit: H-CARDD developed a toolkit to help emergency departments improve their care of patients with developmental disabilities. Download a copy of the Emergency Care Toolkit.

Video: the DD CARES Best Practices series includes videos on improving primary care, mental health care and emergency care. The videos demonstrate common practice errors followed by strategies to improve medical encounters.

Publications: for scientific journal publications about H-CARDD research, please visit our knowledge exchange section.

Recently published on emergency care: Brief report: Staff experience of an initiative to improve emergency care for for patients with developmental disabilities

Barriers and facilitators to improving health care for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities: What do staff tell us?

Understanding and improving care for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the emergency department.

Patient voices: Andrew has Prader-Willi Syndrome. In the video Andrew's Emergency Department Story he explains what it was like for him to visit an emergency department at the hospital.