Collateral Informants

The evaluation of developmentally disabled patient usually requires collateral information from others, including parents or other family members, group home staff, or social service agency staff. The extent and importance of such information increases as the developmentally disabled patient's ability to communicate decreases. Unfortunately, the person with the patient may have relatively little information about the patient's current problems and/or past history. For example, 55 percent of caregivers in a community setting could not supply basic medical information about the patient. It is important to ask the collateral source explicitly how much information they have and whether there are others who can be contacted by phone who can provide additional information. It is also important to ask if they brought any written information with them. Frequently, lower functioning individuals will be living in group settings where a medical chart with a complete medical history, current medications, sleep logs, and longitudinal vital signs are available. Lack of sufficient information is likely to be the primary obstacle to care of the adult developmentally disabled individual.

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