In a study conducted by researchers at the University of California San Diego, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Weil Cornell Medicine, researchers found that emergency room departments do not identify the majority of elder abuse cases. The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that emergency providers reported one case of elder abuse in approximately 7,700 senior visits to emergency rooms. The actual estimate is one in 10 seniors are the victims of elder abuse.

Why Is Elder Abuse Under-Reported by Emergency Rooms?

One of the main reasons why elder abuse falls through the cracks in the emergency room is the patient. Many seniors have cognitive impairments that make it difficult for seniors to communicate effectively with medical staff. Furthermore, it can be very challenging for medical providers to determine if a symptom of abuse, such as a bruise or laceration, is from abuse or due to the patient’s increased vulnerability for accidents and injuries.

However, researchers believe they have developed a new way to determine if a senior adult is the victim of abuse. By using a series of questions and a physical exam, researchers believe they will be able to increase the number of elder abuse cases identified in emergency rooms throughout the country. Emergency rooms in Alabama, North Carolina, and Michigan are testing the new tool.

Identifying Elder Abuse in Nursing Homes

Elder abuse and neglect is a real problem in nursing homes throughout Kentucky. Senior adults are subjected to financial, physical, mental, verbal, and sexual abuse by the very people who are supposed to take care of them. In some cases, the abuse is from other patients or visitors. Regardless of the type of elder abuse or the source of the abuse, the result is catastrophic for the victim.

Elder abuse can cause several conditions that can cause serious harm to the patient including:

  • Withdrawal and isolation leading to depression and mood swings
  • Change in eating habits causing severe weight loss
  • Unexplained physical injuries including bruises, scars, welts, broken bones, lacerations, fractures, sprains, and dislocations
  • Pressure marks and bed sores
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Lack of medical treatment or medication

The best way to prevent abuse is to remain involved in your loved one’s life. Frequent visits at odd times allow you to see how staff members are caring for your loved one. Taking time to examine your loved one while helping him or her change clothes or bathe can identify signs of physical abuse the staff may try to hide with long sleeves and long pants. Closely monitoring your loved one’s financial account and billing statements can help prevent financial abuse.

What Should I Do If I Suspect Abuse?

Take immediate action to protect your loved one! Report the abuse to authorities and contact our office to meet with a Louisville elder abuse attorney. Your loved one may be entitled to recover compensation from the responsible parties for damages and injuries.

Contact the Shelton Law Group by telephone at 1-888-761-7204 or use our online contact form. We do not charge for your initial consultation. Protect your loved one by learning about your loved one’s legal rights regarding elder abuse from an experienced Louisville elder abuse attorney.