September 27, 2006

Forensic Skills uncover elder abuse

by Levin & Perconti

Nursing home abuse cases often involve conflicting accounts of abuse, with elderly victims being doubted due to memory conditions they may have. New York Times recently reported that an elderly man entered an Orange County emergency room covered with bruises. Although he suffered from dementia, the man insisted that his wife’s home health aide had beaten him. However, the health aide and the wife claimed that the man had fallen. The man’s abuse was confirmed after the Orange County Elder Abuse Forensic Center investigated his injuries.

Orange County California has developed an Elder Abuse Forensic Center to determine the origins of elderly patient’s abuse. In the case of the man who had been beaten by his wife’s home health aide, the forensic team members were able to determine that the bruises were a result of being punched. Upon examination, they found bloody outlines of a shoe on the man’s leg. They also performed cognitive tests on the victim’s account of abuse. With this substantial forensic evidence, the prosecutor was convinced to take the case and charged the aide with a felony.

The use of forensics to investigate elder abuse claims holds a great potential for justice in our society, where nursing homes are rampant with abuse. Rather than disbelieving the resident who may suffer from memory lapse, claims now have the potential to be confirmed by forensic experts. Hopefully, similar Elder Abuse Forensic Centers will be soon to develop nationwide.
For the full article.