Elder abuse is unfortunately common around the country. The National Council on Aging estimates that one in 10 Americans older than 60 experiences a type of elder abuse, such as physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse. Despite these high figures, which amount to millions of elderly individuals every year, only one in 14 cases are reported to authorities. This disparity may come not only from willful oversight but also from lack of detection. If individuals do not understand the signs of elder abuse, it can be hard to realize it is happening to a friend or loved one. However, a recent study found that radiologists may be well-equipped to spot elder abuse, increasing the cases reported to authorities.
Radiologists Could Potentially Identify Elder Abuse
According to a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, radiologists could play an important role in detecting elder abuse if they were to receive the proper training. Normally, physical elder abuse is not recognized quickly or at all. The signs and physical indications of elder abuse can be subtle, particularly because older individuals can have a myriad of health issues. However, radiologists are “uniquely positioned” to identify elder abuse when it is happening.
The researchers interviewed 19 diagnostic radiologists. Only two radiologists reported that they received any sort of training on noticing elder abuse. However, all of the interviewees reported that they had probably missed a case of elder abuse. Though many of the physicians understood injuries that could be a sign of abuse, all of the interviewees stated a desire to receive training on detecting elder abuse. Currently, the biggest obstacle to training is research and definitive knowledge on injury patterns associated with elder abuse.
Radiologist Currently Trained to Spot Child Abuse
This theory is not without precedent. Radiologists are currently trained to spot non-accidental injuries in children, which are signs of child abuse. They cannot only identify injuries that are most likely a result of abuse, but also patterns of injuries that are unlikely to come from accidents or clumsiness. These professionals are uniquely positioned and qualified to see signs of physical abuse that other physicians, educators, coaches, and family members may not be able to see, such as multiple fractures without an underlying medical risk, injuries in totally dependent children, or injuries that do not fit the explanation of the incident.
While there may not be a direct translation between how radiologists identify child abuse to how they would identify elder abuse, the professional positioning is similar. Radiologists are often consulted during medical evaluations for elderly individuals’ injuries. With additional information, they would understand when particular injuries are warning signs.
Do You Need an Elder Abuse Attorney?
Do you believe a loved one is being mistreated by a caretaker? Elderly individuals who reside in nursing homes or have in-home care can be abused and taken advantage of by the very people who are there to take care of them. Learn more about the signs of elder abuse and check on your friend or family member’s condition. If he or she is in need of medical attention, take her to a physician or the emergency department right away. Once your loved one’s condition is being monitored and treated, call an experienced San Francisco elder abuse lawyer from Brod Law Firm (800) 427-7020.
(image courtesy of Martin, James Madison, 1866-1947)