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Randy Appleton
| Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn

A new study by the University of North Carolina found that elder abuse and neglect affects one in 10 elderly adults and has far reaching negative consequences on both mental and physical health.

The report noted that victims of elder abuse often do not receive needed care from doctors and often are sent to the ER only. With more than 23 million ER visits by seniors each year, the ER is a very important environment to determine when elder abuse is occurring and to intervene.

medical error

The study was published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society. The research team found that most victims of elder abuse and neglect go to ERs at some point but the problem often is not identified.

The study found that ERs only make a formal diagnosis of elder abuse and neglect in one in 7700 visits when elderly patients come in.

Experts believe one reason for this is that identifying the problem can be difficult; many elderly are frail and/or are cognitively impaired. This makes them more vulnerable to slips and falls as they have trouble walking and caring for themselves.

Our View

As nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys, we would like to remind families to be on the alert for any unusual injuries that they notice in their elderly loved one. Doctors in ERs cannot be relied upon to report elder abuse, so it is up to you to stay alert and watch out for these signs:

  • Cuts and bruises that have no explanation from loved one or nursing home staff
  • Any signs of poor hygiene, such as dirty body or hair or dirty clothes
  • Any signs of malnutrition or dehydration
  • Skin infections or bed sores
  • Overmedication that indicates your loved one is being medicated so he requires less treatment

If you suspect any type of elder abuse or neglect, you should speak to the nursing home or long term care facility director. If you do not get sufficient action, consider filing a complaint with your state regulatory agency. In the worst cases, you can file a personal injury lawsuit for elder abuse and neglect and recover damages for your relative’s pain and suffering.

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