New Tool May Help Recognize Victims of Elder Abuse
Elder abuse is distressingly common, yet it can be hard to detect. Elderly people are fragile and get bruises and broken bones more often than younger people. Therefore, it’s not always easy to tell if physical injuries are the result of abuse or an accident.
If doctors spent more time documenting injuries, that could help identify victims of abuse. Better documentation of injuries would also help investigators and prosecutors successfully pursue abusers. Right now, a medical office will just note the purpose of a patient’s visit, which usually doesn’t provide enough information to build a strong case against abusers.
The Geriatric Injury Documentation Tool
To address these shortcomings, researchers have come up with a new tool they call the Geriatric Injury Documentation Tool. The tool is designed to help medical offices document elderly patients’ injuries in a more thorough and standardized way.
The documentation tool contains diagrams and a questionnaire for medical professionals to use when examining elderly people. The tool also helps them remember what they should do.
Clinicians who use the tool will be prompted to obtain a thorough medical history, using information from both the patient and a second source. The clinicians will note the patient’s appearance before the injury was treated. They will do a thorough full-body search for injuries and document all the injuries they find, even minor ones. They will note any evidence that might help prove or disprove neglect. They will also be encouraged to use photographs and diagrams in addition to written documentation.
This improved documentation should help investigators. It will provide a better big-picture understanding of what happened to the injured patient. The evidence should also help law enforcement prosecute abusers, as well as help to clear innocent caregivers of suspicion. The tool is in its early stages; the next step is to test it in a clinical setting.
Elder Abuse Attorneys Helping Victims
If you ever suspect an elderly loved one has been a victim of abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The elder abuse attorneys at the law firm of Garcia & Artigliere are nationally known leaders in the field of elder abuse law who fight hard to protect the rights of vulnerable seniors. Call (800) 328-2630 for a free case review.