Examining ethical issues that arise in providing ED/hospital care for patients experiencing elder mistreatment and approaches to address them

J Elder Abuse Negl. 2024 Jun 12:1-18. doi: 10.1080/08946566.2024.2365341. Online ahead of print.


Clinicians in the emergency department and hospital who treat patients experiencing elder mistreatment (EM) can expect to encounter challenging ethical dilemmas. Collaboration with ethics and EM consultation services offers teams an important opportunity to improve patient-centered outcomes and address value-based concerns when treating these patients. This article describes the role of a hospital clinical ethics consultation service and best practices for collaboration between ethics and EM consultation services. Illuminated via four case studies, the article presents several core ethical frameworks, including allowing patients the dignity of risk, considerations around a harm reduced discharge, involving abusers in surrogate decision making, and providers' experience of moral distress when dealing with patients experiencing EM. Increasing collaboration with ethics and elder mistreatment services can help teams more effectively respond to EM.

Keywords: Clinical ethics; dignity of risk; elder mistreatment; harm reduction; hospital consultation service.