San Francisco Marin Medical Society Blog

DHCS launches effort to screen patients for childhood trauma



Recognizing that adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have a strong and life-long correlation to numerous health, social and behavioral problems, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS), in partnership with the California Office of the Surgeon General, is creating a first-in-the-nation statewide effort to screen patients for trauma and the increased likelihood of ACEs-associated health conditions due to toxic stress. The goal of this initiative is to reduce ACEs and toxic stress by half in one generation.

DHCS’s ACEs Aware initiative offers provider training and clinical protocols for screening children and adults for ACEs. The free, two-hour online curriculum will provide Continuing Medical Education and Maintenance of Certification credits.

All physicians are encouraged to receive training to screen patients for ACEs. By screening for ACEs, providers can better determine whether a patient is at increased health risk due to a toxic stress response, which can inform patient treatment and through the use of trauma-informed care. Detecting ACEs early and connecting patients to interventions, resources and other supports can improve the health and well-being of individuals and families.

Beginning January 1, 2020, DHCS will pay Medi-Cal providers to perform trauma screenings for children and adults with Medi-Cal coverage. Medi-Cal providers must take a certified training and self-attest no later than July 1, 2020, to having completed the training in order to continue to be reimbursed for ACEs screenings.


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