Improving Quality of Care in Hospitals for Victims of Elder Mistreatment: Development of the Vulnerable Elder Protection Team

Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2018 Mar;44(3):164-171. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2017.08.010. Epub 2018 Feb 13.


Problem definition: Hospitals have an opportunity to improve the quality of care provided to a particularly vulnerable population: victims of elder mistreatment. Despite this, no programs to prevent or stop elder abuse in the acute care hospital have been reported. An innovative, multidisciplinary emergency department (ED)-based intervention for elder abuse victims, the Vulnerable Elder Protection Team (VEPT), was developed at NewYork-Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center (New York City).

Approach: The VEPT is a consultation service available 24 hours a day/7 days a week to improve identification, comprehensive assessment, and treatment for potential victims of elder abuse or neglect. All ED providers have been trained on how to recognize signs of elder mistreatment. Any provider can activate the VEPT via a single page/telephone call, which triggers the VEPT's often time-consuming, complex assessment of the potential mistreatment victim. First, the ED social worker on duty performs the initial bedside assessment and separately interviews the potential perpetrator and/or caregiver. He or she then contacts the on-call VEPT medical provider to discuss next steps and other team members' potential involvement. For patients admitted to the hospital, the VEPT connects with the inpatient social workers and medical team to ensure appropriate follow-up and care planning.

Next steps/planned evaluation: The VEPT program was launched in April 2017 after comprehensive training. Its impact will be measured by tracking the short-term and long-term mistreatment-related outcomes, as well as medical, mental health, functional, psychosocial, and legal outcomes of the vulnerable ED patients for whom the team provides care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Elder Abuse / prevention & control
  • Elder Abuse / therapy*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hospitals, Urban
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • New York City
  • Patient Care Team*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Referral and Consultation