People living with IDD have a much higher mortality risk compared to individuals without IDD. Specific tools, like Health Risk Screening’s HRST, have been developed to help screen these people for health risks and develop a plan of care to prevent them from occurring. 


(Clearwater, FL) October 12, 2020Up to 4% of the United States population, or 7 to 8 million Americans, live with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD)(1). The degree of mortality risk to a specific person can be measured in health care levels (HCLs), which, along with age, is important prognostically according to information gathered in the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities 2019 Annual Mortality Report; for every one-unit increase in HCL, there is a 75% increase in the odds of dying(2)Methods to predict such risk are essential for taking actionable steps to avoid harm and prevent death, according to Health Risk Screening, Inc. (HRS). 


The Georgia Annual Mortality Report found a significant increase in mortality in 2019 among people living with IDD. People with higher HCLs were found to have a group mortality rate exceeding that of the overall population mortality rate(2). But these findings don’t take the current pandemic into account. Other research shows that people living with IDD are more likely to contract COVID-19(3). And if they do develop an infection, these same individuals are 2-2.5 times more likely to die from the disease compared to individuals without IDD.(3)  


Dr. Craig Escudé, President of HRS, says, “Even without the pandemic, people who live with IDD are at higher risk of mortality for a variety of reasons. Early identification of possible risk factors is the key to finding preventative actions that will help these people live longer with a better quality of life.” 


Doctors often point to the “fatal five” when discussing the most common causes of death among people living with IDD—these include aspiration, bowel obstruction, dehydration, seizures, and sepsis/infections.(4) Unlike the top causes of death in the U.S., such as heart disease or cancer(5), these five conditions are more easily preventedAdditionally, individuals with IDD are more likely to have comorbid medical conditions which increase mortality risk, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and smoking-related maladies.(6) 


HRS’s Health Risk Screening Tool (HRST) helps doctors, caregivers, and others measure various health risks associated with IDD which may prevent individuals from engaging in functional activities(7). Numerical ratings are calculated using a 22-item scale to discover an individual’s overall HCL. The higher the HCL, the more at risk the person is for events which may lead to death. However, the HRST doesn’t just identify a person’s risk level—it also provides actionable steps that can be used to guide treatment(7) 


For the seventh year running, the GA 2019 Annual Mortality Report found that the HRST accurately predicts mortality in individuals with IDD(2)26 states(7), including Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, have already started using the tool to detect health risks earlier for people living with IDD. 


Escudé says, “Since the HRST predicts mortality, clinicians and other caregivers can use it to establish a person’s health care needs and determine the level of health care that’s appropriate. These actions serve as the basis for the development of a comprehensive plan of care that helps negate these risks.” 


Screening individuals with IDD early to determine risks to their health is essential for avoiding these risks and helping people with IDD live longer, healthier lives. To help providers, including non-IDD specialized physicians, and others learn more about the HRST and its predictiveness of mortality, HRS, Inc. will hold a news conference Wednesday, November 4, 2020, at 11:30 am EST. The event is intended to introduce the HRST, review the research that validates the tool, and answer any questions about screening individuals with IDD for specific health risks. You can register for the free news conference by clicking here, or visiting 


About Health Risk Screening, Inc.:  

Health Risk Screening, Inc.’s roots began in 1992. HRS is an industry leader in training courses, webinars, and materials to help at-risk populations. HRS’s focus is on developing tools and training for the person-centered support of these vulnerable populations. Through the education of government agencies and service providers, HRS aims to improve lives. One such tool is the Health Risk Screening Tool, of which HRS is the sole developer, producer, and distributor. The web-based HRST is the most widely used and validated health risk screening instrument for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. With unrelenting focus, HRS works to fulfill its mission of improving the health and quality of life for people faced with these types of vulnerabilities. For more information, visit 



  1. “Mortality Reports.” Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, 2020,  
  1. Shapiro, Joseph. “COVID-19 Infections And Deaths Are Higher Among Those With Intellectual Disabilities.” NPR, NPR, 9 June 2020,  
  1. “Fatal Five, The Fatal Four Developmental Disabilities.” HRS Inc, 5 Oct. 2020,  
  1. “FastStats – Leading Causes of Death.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Feb. 2020,  
  1. “Disability Impacts All of Us Infographic.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 Sept. 2020,  
  1. “Health Risk Screening Tool, Health Risk Assessment Tool.” HRS Inc, 22 Sept. 2020,  




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