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Hospital Admissions Plans for Patients with Autism at Massachusetts General Hospital

The primary objective of this research was to expand and study the outcome of a quality improvement project known as “Autism Care Plans (ACPs).” The investigators hypothesized that the use of ACPs would improve the in-hospital experience for patients with autism and their families. On paper, the ACP is a template for caregivers of patients with autism to fill out prior to hospital admission. The ACP documents the patient’s primary modes of expressive and receptive communication, social and pragmatic considerations when preparing for patient hospitalization, and relevant sensory/perceptual issues. The investigators evaluated pre-and post-hospitalization caregiver satisfaction after these templates had been utilized in the inpatient setting.

The ACP for patients with autism strives to ensure 1) appropriate and efficient patient care, 2) patient and family satisfaction with hospital performance and services, 3) reduced adverse outcomes in the inpatient setting and 4) cost effectiveness. The ACP attempts to achieve the above goals using a three-pronged approach. The first element of the ACP is to enhance communication between patient and doctor. The second element of the ACP attempts to make autistic patients as comfortable as possible within the unfamiliar and often unpredictable hospital environment. The third element of the ACP involves extensive provider education and outcome analysis.