Law Firm of Garcia & Artigliere

Staying Vigilant for Senior Abuse, Even with Authority Figures

It’s natural to trust authority figures and specialists when it comes to seniors and senior care at long-term care facilities and nursing homes. It’s expected that anyone in such an industry is likely doing what they should be doing. However, seniors continue to die as a result of poor care and overzealous administration of antipsychotic drugs, which are used to control distraught or hard-to-handle seniors.

It’s an important reminder that senior abuse and neglect happens at the hands of trusted individuals and can even elude doctors and authorities. Vigilant family, friends, neighbors and whistleblowers help to reveal elder abuse issues and stop the hemorrhaging before others are affected.

Often, suspicious senior deaths are said to be natural. This is happening for a number of reasons. Flaws in the senior care system are allowing for abuse to be overlooked in seniors. Problems include:

However, some states are taking matters into their own hands to help prevent senior abuse from being overlooked. Counties have formed elder death review teams to assess potential neglect/abuse. Unfortunately, society seems to value seniors less and less despite the fact that their population is growing year after year due to living longer and healthier lives with the help of new technologies. Another issue is that death certificates sometimes contain errors or are incomplete. Doctors, who typically lack forensic training, sometimes aren’t equipped to determine whether a death was extraordinary or routine on a death certificate, which can mean abuse was overlooked.

Furthermore, coroners can be reticent to perform an autopsy or to look into a case. It was discovered in 2008 that autopsies were performed on only 2 percent of 1.8 million seniors who died. This occurs because many attribute senior death as natural at a certain age.

Yet coroners should be looking for specific warning signs in autopsies to make sure a senior didn’t die before his/her time. Coroners will look for:

In Arkansas, nursing homes are required to report all senior deaths to the coroner. It’s a law that’s been in effect since 1999. Any suspicious deaths must be reported to law enforcement and state regulators.

Criminal elder abuse charges require the services of an elder abuse attorney. To learn more about how the elder abuse lawyers at Garcia & Artigliere can help, call us today at 1-800-281-8515.