Introduction: Emergency departments are often the first point of contact for elder neglect victims. The purpose of this article is to describe a pilot study pertaining to the screening of patients and detection of elder neglect conducted in a large metropolitan medical center emergency department. The research question to be answered was, "Is it feasible for ED nurses to conduct accurate screening protocols for elder neglect in the context of their busy practice?"
Methods: During a 3-week period, 180 patients older than age 70 years (90% of all possible elderly patients during the screening hours) were screened to determine if they met the study criteria and could be enrolled into the protocol.
Results: Thirty-six patients met the eligibility criteria to enroll in the study, and 7 patients screened positive for neglect by a home caregiver. The nurses were able to screen and detect elder neglect with more than 70% accuracy, confirming the research question. The true-positive rate was 71%, and the false-positive rate was 7%.
Discussion: Elder neglect protocols are feasible in busy emergency departments, and neglect can be accurately detected in the emergency department when screening procedures are in place.