Identifying and Initiating Intervention for Elder Abuse and Neglect in the Emergency Department

Clin Geriatr Med. 2018 Aug;34(3):435-451. doi: 10.1016/j.cger.2018.04.007. Epub 2018 Jun 15.


Elder abuse and neglect are common and may have serious medical and social consequences but are infrequently identified. An emergency department (ED) visit represents a unique but usually missed opportunity to identify potential abuse and initiate intervention. ED assessment should include observation of patient-caregiver interaction, comprehensive medical history, and head-to-toe physical examination. Formal screening protocols may also be useful. ED providers concerned about elder abuse or neglect should document their findings in detail. ED interventions for suspected or confirmed elder abuse or neglect include treatment of acute medical, traumatic, and psychological issues; ensuring patient safety; and reporting to the authorities.

Keywords: Elder abuse; Elder mistreatment; Elder neglect; Emergency department; Financial exploitation; Geriatrics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Elder Abuse* / classification
  • Elder Abuse* / diagnosis
  • Elder Abuse* / prevention & control
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Geriatric Assessment / methods*
  • Health Services for the Aged
  • Humans