ER Personnel Crucial in Spotting Elder Abuse

It can be hard to recognize the signs of elder abuse. This difficulty can be further complicated in a setting like an emergency room. Studies show that emergency room doctors and staff need to learn how to spot potential elder abuse and report it.

According to two studies published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, emergency department personnel play a crucial role in spotting the signs of elder abuse.

Physicians and staff in the emergency department are often a patient’s first line of defense and their first access to help. It is important for these staff members to get elderly patients critical help when signs of willful abuse or neglect are spotted.

Marguerite DeLiema, Ph.D., the author of the first study and her team followed the cases of two elder patients. Both were admitted with signs of malnutrition, contractures. Both patients were non-verbal and had histories of dementia. Both of the patients’ caregivers were routinely uncooperative and often disregarded care instructions.

While both cases initially appeared to be clear instances of neglect, further inspection proved that the cases were highly complex and multi-layered. The paper then went on the explain to emergency personnel how to assess cases of neglect and get to their root causes. They were also explained how to assess the caregiver’s ability to provide care.

The second study urges healthcare professionals to adopt a team-based approach to determine if abuse or neglect is occurring and intervene if necessary.

Elder abuse in the United States has less than a 5% detection and reporting rate according to the second study. This is why this study advocates for a team-based approach. It should involve health care personnel, nurses, and social workers.

A 2015 report in the New England Journal of Medicine stated that 1 in 10 elderly patients will be the victim of abuse or neglect. The same report published a checklist to be used when neglect or abuse is suspected. Some of the suggestions included separate interviews and assessing cognition and mood.

If you believe that yourself or a loved one has been the victim of elder abuse or neglect, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the law offices of Schenk Smith. Our attorneys will work with you to get the settlement you deserve. Contact us today.