One of the scariest things about elder abuse is how long it can go unnoticed. Whether the elderly person is being abused by a family member responsible for his or her care or being poorly cared for in a nursing home, it can be especially difficult for elderly people to alert others to the abuse they are suffering. Victims of elder abuse tend to be socially isolated; elderly people are more likely than younger ones to experience social isolation, and the more isolated the person is, the greater the risk of abuse. Additionally, health problems such as dementia, hearing loss, or limited mobility can make it even more difficult for elder abuse victims to communicate with people who could help them. Even worse, some elder abuse takes place in nursing homes, and in some cases the victims have little contact with the outside world. Medical personnel outside the nursing home might be the first people to notice signs of physical abuse of elderly patients. In the case of elder abuse lawsuits, their testimony can be important. Recent news reports highlight the importance of radiologists and emergency room staff in noticing signs of elder abuse and taking a stand to stop the abuse.
Looking for Warning Signs of Abuse
Radiologists and emergency room doctors and nurses see all kinds of patients and all kinds of injuries. Radiologists, in particular, look at images of patients’ injuries. These images could be X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs, or other types of images. Radiologists already undergo training to detect signs of abuse in children. They can tell, based on the appearance of a bone fracture on an X-ray and based on the child’s age, whether the injury is likely to be the result of an accident or whether the injury was caused by abuse. A study published by the American Journal of Roentgenology indicates that training radiologists to look for signs of elder abuse may result in many abuse victims finally receiving the treatment they need. Detecting abuse in elderly people can be more difficult than detecting it in children because elderly people of the same age vary so widely in health status. There is such a thing as normal healing for a 6-year-old, but not for an 80-year-old. Likewise, elderly people are more likely to have delayed healing because of comorbid health conditions or medications, so it is not always easy to tell when failure to heal is a sign of abuse.
Emergency room visits are all about first impressions. The doctors and nurses examining the patient know little about the patient’s medical history. Therefore, they are likely to notice signs and symptoms in the patient that raise red flags about abuse.
Contact Case Barnett About Suspected Elder Abuse
Personal injury lawsuits, including those involving elder abuse, require the testimony of healthcare professionals who have treated the patient. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California about how evidence from a radiologist or emergency room physician or nurse could support your case.