Study Finds Hospitals Often Miss Signs of Senior Abuse

Missed diagnoses could take a huge toll with so many seniors making trips to hospitals each year.

A new study found that elder abuse is rarely identified in hospitals despite the fact that around 10 percent of seniors in the country are abused.

The study’s authors concluded that abuse is diagnosed in only one in every 7,700 emergency department visits from seniors.

The lead author of the study, Dr. Timothy Platts-Mills of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, says staff members in emergency departments must do more to correct the diagnosis problem.

“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,” Dr. Platts-Mills said. “For elder abuse, EDs across the country are falling short.”

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Elder abuse can take a tremendous toll on its victims but can be difficult to identify for an emergency department physician who doesn’t see the patients regularly.

“It can be very difficult distinguishing whether a bruise is from a fall or physical abuse, or whether poor hygiene is a result of a patient asking to be left alone or the result of overt neglect on the part of a care provider,” Patts-Mills said.

Seniors make more than 23 million trips to emergency departments across the country every year, according to CBS News.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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