Reporting Requirement

All 50 states have laws authorizing APS departments to intervene in cases of elder abuse. It is important for primary care physicians to know their state's requirements on mandatory reporting for elder abuse and which type of abuse (e.g., physical, emotional, sexual, financial) requires reporting. Higher rates of abuse have been documented in states that require public education regarding elder abuse and states that require mandatory reporting (Jogerst et al., 2003). Mandatory reporting laws in 42 states are controversial because they conflict with a competent elder's autonomy and with the physician-patient relationship. In such cases, physicians should explain their legal obligation to report and emphasize that the goal of reporting is to develop a care plan to assist the patient.

KEY TREATMENT

Direct questioning by physicians for elder abuse increases the rate of reporting (Oswald et al., 2004) (SOR: B).

Older individuals should be screened for elder abuse (AMA, 1992) (SOR: C).

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