Radiologists Could Play Key Role in Detecting Nursing Home Abuse

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Radiologists are in a position to identify signs of injury in seniors, and this could assist them in detecting elder abuse.

This finding came from a recent study that was published in the American Journal of Roentgenology. Radiologists have long been relied on for their unique access to signs of child abuse, and are often called on to identify signs of such abuse, but the same hasn’t been done in the case of elder abuse or nursing home abuse. That could be because signs of nursing home abuse are harder to identify than child abuse. However, researchers now say that it is very evident that diagnostic radiologists are often in a position to identify injuries that may be consistent with elder abuse.

Certainly, there are challenges when radiologists attempt to identify signs of elder abuse. For instance, an old fracture in a child may indicate neglect or abuse, but in a senior adult, a fracture may not mean the same thing. Many senior do suffer falls, and the risk of a fall increases with a senior’s age.

The study focused on how prepared radiologists are to identify elder abuse, and found that many radiologists are not specifically trained to identify the signs. Out of the 19 radiologists who were interviewed, the researchers found that only two had received any kind of training in detecting this form of abuse. However, all of the 19 radiologists admitted that they had missed cases of elder abuse in their career, and all confirmed that they would like to undergo training in elder abuse detection.

The researchers found a number of signs of abuse that could be consistent with elder abuse or nursing home abuse; including multiple fractures, frontal and posterior fractures, multiple subdural hematomas, smaller hematomas, and multiple injuries in varying stages of healing. Spinal fractures and head trauma are also potential signs of elder abuse that can be identified.

The researchers believe that apart from radiologists, other technologists who may be able to have more personal, private time with the patient, could also assist in the detection of the signs of elder abuse. In fact, technologists may be in a better position than a radiologist, because they have private access to the patient, away from the person who brought the patient into the radiology center and could possibly also be the abuser.

Physical or emotional abuse is not something expected when you make the painful decision to admit a loved one into a nursing home. Unfortunately, cases of nursing home abuse and neglect are far too common to ignore.  

If your loved one has suffered neglect or abuse in a nursing home, talk to an experienced Indiana nursing home abuse attorney at Montross Miller Muller Mendelson & Kennedy, LLP for information about how to protect his or her legal rights.