Elder abuse is a serious and rising problem. Every year, approximately 10 percent of the elderly experience some form of abuse, either physical or mental. But there is a problem with detecting and investigating potential abuse victims. Because of this, a new protocol has been developed that will help detect physical injuries caused by abuse.
The difficulty in detecting elder abuse has a few causes. First, many of the elderly cannot communicate very well. Also, they may be afraid to report the abuse and their abuser. Another problem is the lack of standardized reporting of injuries and conditions from prior medical exams. Due to this, it could take months or even years to discover the abuse.
The new standard involves the Geriatric Injury Documentation Tool (Geri-IDT). This tool was created after a study of elder abuse was done by the Keck School of Medicine of USC and led by Dr. Laura Mosqueda, MD. The results were published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. “Because older adults are more vulnerable to injuries like fractures and bruising, it is often difficult to distinguish if an injury is due to an accident or abuse,” says Dr. Mosqueda. “This tool includes diagrams and a brief questionnaire that makes it easier to document an injury and reminds clinicians about what to ask and observe during the exam. We believe this will move us toward more comprehensive injury documentation and ultimately result in better medical care.”
The new protocol calls for the following to be focused upon more than it has been in the past:
- Obtaining a patient history from both the patient and a second, trusted source;
- Note the patient’s appearance before the examination begins in order to their real physical condition prior to any treatment or grooming;
- Examine the patient’s entire body for any injuries or physical conditions;
- Note all injuries no matter how minor; and
- Note any evidence that might demonstrate that abuse did not occur, such as evidence of falls or self-abuse.
Geri-IDT also suggests the use of photographs and body diagrams to be used with the written medical file notes.Although using this tool will require the clinician to spend more time with the elderly patient, the use of this tool will likely help detect elder abuse and help law enforcement and prosecutors hold the abusers accountable.
If your loved one has suffered from some form of abuse while under the care of a nursing home, get the justice your family deserves –our nursing home abuse attorneys can help you hold negligent nursing home facilities accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused.
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