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Emergency Room Departments Often Fail to Identify Elder Abuse

Although elder abuse affects about one in every 10 older adults, emergency room visits by older adults, which number 23 million annually, rarely fail to detect elder abuse. In fact, a new study shows that emergency room care providers only make a finding of elder abuse in one out of every 7,700 ER visits, which clearly is a vast difference from the actual statistics on elder abuse. Plus, since elderly individuals in abusive situations do not tend to receive routine medical care or see a doctor on a regular basis, they are much more likely to utilize the emergency room for medical needs than other individuals.

Identifying elder abuse is not always an easy task. Older individuals who are frail or have cognitive difficulties often are more vulnerable to injuries and have a harder time caring for themselves. As a result, it may be more difficult to discern whether an injury is sustained during normal activity or inflicted by a caregiver. Emergency departments are training physicians and social workers to identify elder abuse more readily and provide these individuals with the assistance that they need. However, these efforts clearly are falling short of the need.

In response, the researchers involved in the study plan to develop and validate screening tool designed specifically to identify elder abuse in the nursing home setting. Rather than an emergency room worker asking a single question about whether abuse has occurred, the new tool will use several different questions to assess the presence of the different aspects of elder abuse, including physical abuse and psychological abuse. The tool also will call for a physical exam in the case of an elderly person with significant cognitive impairment.

The Wisconsin elder abuse lawyers of Boller & Vaughan know how devastating it can be when you entrust your loved one to the care of others, only to have that trust completely betrayed. Our attorneys are dedicated to protecting your rights and those of your loved ones in all types of circumstances. We handle nursing home abuse and neglect cases on a daily basis, and we know how to get the relief to which you may be entitled. Don’t hesitate to fight back against a neglectful or abusive nursing care and assistance living facility that has caused harm to your loved one. Call us today and see how we can help.