Thursday, May 31, 2007

Forestalling elder abuse deaths

I am one of about a dozen county Coroners in Illinois participating in a nursing home death reporting task force and project. The purpose of the project is to investigate and ultimately prevent death due to abuse and neglect at long-term care facilities. This will likely translate into prevention of abuse and neglect of individuals residing in long-term care facilities, even those not causing death.

The Coroner in each county is uniquely placed to discover and report instances of abuse and neglect and the Illinois Department of Public Health has decided to seek out/enlist that help. The project will not change our office procedures, for the most part, since we already ask the nursing homes to report deaths to us and we look into any that raise any suspicion. The change for our office is that we will now have deaths reported of facility residents who die up to 10 days after hospitalization.

Elder abuse is a real problem and we look forward to participating in efforts to prevent it in long-term care facilities and, in particular, proving its value so that it becomes standard at least across the state (and maybe a model for elsewhere). We even discussed going after regulatory changes to ensure the reporting and investigation on a mandated basis, if need be. All, again, in the name of forestalling death.

1 comment:

Allison said...

I am a law student interested in elder law, and I just wanted to thank you for the work you're doing. This is a real problem, and there is evidence that coroners are in a great position to help stop it. I am going to be writing a research paper this semester about the development of law in this area, and I think the IL task force is very encouraging.