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How Hospital Emergency Rooms Can Find and Help Abused Seniors

Garcia & Artigliere

We want our aging loved ones to be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Unfortunately, emergency room signelder abuse is a continuing problem. Vulnerable seniors can be abused emotionally, financially, physically, or sexually. Sadly, seniors who are abused in one way are often also abused in others.

A new program is training hospital emergency room (ER) staff to recognize signs of elder abuse. The program has started in one hospital, with the goal of eventually helping other hospitals set up similar programs of their own.

Why Are Hospital Emergency Rooms a Good Place for this Program?

Seniors who are abused often don’t tell anyone. In some cases, they may never go anywhere outside of their home or their living facility except to a hospital ER. That makes the ER staff uniquely situated to identify seniors who need help because they are being abused.

A hospital ER is also able to call in many different types of specialists to assist when needed, in addition to the ER doctors and social workers who form the core of the program. Radiologists, for example, can be brought in to analyze injuries, and psychiatrists can evaluate a patient’s capacity to make decisions. In some cases, patients may also be admitted to the hospital, where they will be safe, at least for a time, from the abuse that they suffered in their previous living situation. That will provide time for a new living situation or other solution to be found.

Right now the program is in its infancy, but if it catches on and spreads to other emergency rooms throughout the country, it could have a significant effect in uncovering hard-to-detect cases of elder abuse. It could provide an intervention that would improve the quality of life and even save lives. Proponents of the program also say it will save hospitals money by reducing abused seniors’ unfortunate need for repeated trips to the ER to get help for their injuries.

If you have an elderly loved one you suspect might be being abused, you should not suffer in silence. Call the experienced and caring elder abuse attorneys at Garcia & Artigliere at (800) 328-2630 for a free consultation. We have been fighting for vulnerable seniors and their families since 2003.

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