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Reports Find Health Workers Still Aren't Alerting Police Regarding Likely Elder Abuse

12 Jun 2019 10:05 PM | Matt Zavadsky (Administrator)

Source Study | Comments courtesy of Matt Zavadsky

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Concerning report on NPR’s Morning Edition… 

MedStar crews, in cooperation with UT Health, have been making a HUGE difference in finding solutions to this problem by our participation in the DETECT project! 

The results of DETECT Phase I have recently been published.

https://bmcemergmed.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12873-016-0084-3

In cooperation with UT Health, MedStar will begin Phase II of DETECT this summer. 

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Reports Find Health Workers Still Aren't Alerting Police Regarding Likely Elder Abuse

June 12, 2019

By Ina Jaffe

Correspondent, National Desk

Heard on Morning Edition

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2019/06/12/731820729/reports-find-health-workers-still-arent-alerting-police-regarding-likely-elder-a?

Two reports from the federal government have determined that many cases of abuse or neglect of elderly patients that are severe enough to require medical attention are not being reported to enforcement agencies by nursing homes or health workers — even though such reporting is required by law.

It can be hard to quantify the problem of elder abuse. Experts believe that many cases go unreported. And Wednesday morning, their belief was confirmed by two new government studies.

The research, conducted and published by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, finds that in many cases of abuse or neglect severe enough to require medical attention, the incidents have not been reported to enforcement agencies, though that's required by law.

One of the studies focuses solely on the possible abuse of nursing home residents who end up in emergency rooms. The report looks at claims sent to Medicare in 2016 for treatment of head injuries, body bruises, bed sores and other diagnoses that might indicate physical abuse, sexual abuse or severe neglect.

Gloria Jarmon, deputy inspector general for audit services, says her team found that nursing homes failed to report nearly 1 in 5 of these potential cases to the state inspection agencies charged with investigating them.

"Some of the cases we saw, a person is treated in an emergency room [and] they're sent back to the same facility where they were potentially abused and neglected," Jarmon says.

But the failure to record and follow up on possible cases of elder abuse is not just the fault of the nursing homes. Jarmon says that in five states where nursing home inspectors did investigate and substantiate cases of abuse, "97 percent of those had not been reported to local law enforcement as required."

State inspectors of nursing homes who participated in the study appeared to be confused about when they were required to refer cases to law enforcement, Jarmon notes. One state agency said that it only contacted the police for what it called "the most serious abuse cases."

Elder abuse occurs in many settings — not just nursing homes. The second study looked at Medicare claims for the treatment of potential abuse or neglect of older adults, regardless of where it took place. The data was collected on incidents occurring between January of 2015 and June of 2017.


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