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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Elder Abuse Under-Identified in U.S. Emergency Departments

 

Elder Abuse Under-Identified in U.S. Emergency Departments

Elder abuse affects approximately 1 in 10 older adults in the United States and has far-reaching negative effects on physical and mental health. Victims of elder abuse, like other vulnerable populations, tend not to receive routine care from a primary care physician and often depend on the emergency department. With over 23 million emergency department visits by older adults annually, the emergency department is an important setting to identify elder abuse and initiate interventions to ensure patient safety and address unmet care needs. In a new study published this week in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a team of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of California San Diego, and Weil Cornell Medicine used a nationally-representative dataset to estimate the frequency with which emergency providers make a formal diagnosis of elder abuse. The answer: 1 in 7,700 visits.

 

"These findings indicate that the vast majority of victims of elder abuse pass through the emergency department without the problem being identified," said, Timothy Platts-Mills, MD, assistant professor of emergency medicine and co-director of the division of geriatric emergency medicine at the UNC School of Medicine and senior author of the study. Given the burden of this problem, this is a major missed opportunity. "Emergency physicians strive to make sure that for each patient who comes through the door, all serious and life-threatening conditions are identified and addressed. For elder abuse, EDs across the country are falling short."

 

Source/more: Science Daily


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