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Missing Deaths Due to Elder Abuse  

Author:  Loree  Cook-Daniels M. S..

Source: Volume 06, Number 03, Winter 2014 , pp.33-40(8)

Family & Intimate Partner Violence Quarterly

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As is true of so many other sections of our medical and legal systems, the policies and procedures revolving around medical examiners, the local authorities charged with determining and documenting the official cause of death, are dangerously flawed. In some jurisdictions, the medical examiner is not required to be a pathologist or even a medical doctor. Autopsies cost money; their cost is non-reimbursable by insurance companies and thus are likely to be given low priority by, for example, the county nursing home that is already operating on an extremely tight budget. But as author Loree Cook-Daniels explains, cutting corners on autopsies is not a wise way to save, as it comes with the potential cost of missing cases in which elderly persons die at the hands of another. Fortunately, there is growing awareness of the gaps in this system and in some places, corrective procedures have been put in place to better ensure that deaths due to elder abuse will be detected and prosecuted.

Keywords: Suspicious Elder Deaths; ProPublica; National Public Radio; PBS show “Frontline”; broken death investigation system; primary cause of death; autopsy rates; coroner/medical examiner expertise; ageism; fatality review teams

Affiliations:  1: FORGE.

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