Thursday, May 14, 2009

Suspected Elder Abuse -- What should be reported?

Rosemary Flanigan
May 14, 2009

I am giving a short program to hospice/nursing home personnel tomorrow and I am using a case that centers around suspected elder abuse by a family member.

Yes, yes, I know one is bound by law to report it. But how “suspicious” must the circumstances be? In my case there are no bruises but there are rumors of periodic food deprivation.


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Blogger Practical Bioethics said...

Rosemary my friend,

Elder abuse and the associated regulatory requirements have been a struggle for providers from the day mandatory reporting(reporters) became regulation.

The questions you raise become the major issue(s) each time a potential abuse event presents. At the level of application, groups I have been associated with have sorted the issues sort of like this:

1) Do not allow the mandatory reporting regulation to place you, as the practitioner, in the stead of judge and jury. If you suspect, you suspect. It is the job of the state agencies to determine abuse, not the practitioners.

2) If at all possible convene a multidisciplinary team familiar with the patient, prior to reporting. I have found that in most cases there are legitimate reasons for the signs and symptoms being seen.

3) If possible, call the suspected offenders prior to the reporting ( see number 2 and it is the right thing to do).

4) The greatest hindrance will be practitioners trusting the process of discussion, before reporting, well enough to protect their license relative to the mandatory requirements.

Landis Downing

Thursday, May 14, 2009  
Blogger Practical Bioethics said...

I agree with all the steps except calling the likely offenders.

What would be the rationale for being the "right" thing to do?

It gives the offenders lots of time to do all kinds of things....take Mom on a trip, frighten her from telling the truth etc.

Helen Sullivan, RN

Thursday, May 14, 2009  

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