The Seriousness of Elder Abuse

Elder abuse has been on the rise, and the problem continues because many victims are too afraid to report their issues or they don’t know how to report them. Medical professionals have the legal and moral duty to report any abuse that occurs in a nursing home. In the state of Massachusetts, a number or laws and state regulations provide specific requisites for nurses to follow when reporting any form of abuse to their corresponding State Government.

According to the Board of Registration, abuse is defined as any “impermissible or unjustifiable contact or communication with a patient which in any way harms or intimidates, or is likely to harm or intimidate, a patient.” it can either be a verbal or non-verbal act that could cause the patient physical, emotional, mental, sexual, or even financial harm. Any nurse who has a direct observance of another nurse who committed in any form abuse has the responsibility of reporting the abusive nurse to the Board. The nursing complaint report should be completed and submitted to the Board.

Law firms such as Crowe & Mulvey, LLP suggest giving an oral report to their supervisor or their employer first, so that their supervisor or employer can inform the Department of Health. Families of the abused patient can file a personal injury claim against the staff or the nursing home facility if they prefer, and can hire a lawyer to help them with the claim. Nurses, and other medical professionals on the other hand, should follow the guidelines such as from M.G.L. c. 111, § 72G and from ref: 244 of the CMR 9.03(26). The penalties for failing to give oral and written report regarding the abuse when they where required includes a fine of less than US$ 1,000 and possible disciplinary actions by the Board.

Because of the fragile state of patients in nursing homes, any form or abuse, neglect, or maltreatment is and should be treated with seriousness. Regardless of their age, everyone has rights, and if those rights are taken advantage of then it is necessary to stop the abuse and ensure that the incident will not happen again.

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