Boca Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Joe Osborne - ER’s May Under Diagnose Elder Abuse

By Osborne & Francis
October 25, 2023

ER’s need to do a better job helping elderly victims of abuse says Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne.

About 10% of the elderly may be suffering abuse and that has far-reaching negative effects on their physical and mental health. Victims living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities may have their routine medical care ignored so they may not get appropriate medical care until they’re sent to the local hospital emergency department. Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne says hospital personnel need to be alert to signs of abuse of the elderly.

There are an estimated more than 23 million emergency department visits by older adults every year, according to Science Daily. Emergency departments can identify elder abuse and intervene to ensure patient safety and address unmet care needs, adds nursing home neglect attorney Osborne.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society researchers used a nationally-representative dataset to estimate how often emergency providers make a formal diagnosis of elder abuse. Their answer is one in 7,700 visits, which may be far fewer than it should be.

The vast majority of victims of elder abuse pass through the emergency department (ED) without the problem being identified, according to one study author, Timothy Platts-Mills, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine and co-director of the division of geriatric emergency medicine at the UNC School of Medicine and senior author of the study. He says, “For elder abuse, ED’s across the country are falling short."

Platts-Mills admits that identifying elder abuse isn’t always easy.

  • Older adults who may be physically frail, suffer dementia or psychiatric conditions and are vulnerable to injuries and may have difficulty caring for themselves.
  • It can be difficult distinguishing whether a bruise is from a fall or physical abuse, or whether poor hygiene is due to a person asking to be left alone or the result of neglect by a care provider.

"But those difficulties don't change the reality that elder abuse is common, takes a tremendous toll on its victims, and is frequently missed," Platts-Mills says.

The goal of the research is to help emergency departments better identify elderly abuse.

  • Study authors plan to develop and validate a screening tool designed for emergency departments.
  • Currently most emergency departments just ask a single question about safety at home at the time of triage of an elderly patient.
  • This new tool will cover several questions to ask about different aspects of elder abuse and neglect. It will also include a physical exam for patients with significant cognitive impairment.

Victims of nursing home and assisted living facility abuse and neglect are often at the mercy of staff who don’t have the resources to properly care for them, are indifferent to their needs or are intentionally doing them harm. When the resident’s health deteriorates enough the emergency department may be their last hope to discover the problems and alert family members to what is going on. These emergency department nurses and doctors must do a better job to help these residents at a time when they need help the most says personal injury attorney Osborne.

If you or a family member has questions about nursing home neglect or abuse in the South Florida area, contact Boca nursing home abuse lawyer Joe Osborne at (561) 293-2600 or fill out this online contact form. You can discuss your case, how the law may apply and your best legal options to protect your rights and obtain compensation for your loved one’s injuries.

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