Thursday, August 30, 2007

Surprise : One Out of every 20 People Can Expect to be a Victim of Elder Abuse

Ashland Daily Press Spooner Advocate

It’s a surprising statistic, but in the United States one out of every 20 people can expect to be a victim of elder abuse – to be either physically or psychologically harmed, or be exploited in some way. Often those perpetrating the abuse are in the role of caregiver, either a family member or a caretaker at a home health or long-term care facility.

One predictor of who may abuse when it comes to paid caretakers is to look at past histories – persons with past criminal histories that include abuse or fraud are more likely to be future perpetrators.

In an effort to provide a national tool for cross-checking potential employees for warning signs, the Patient Safety and Abuse Prevention Act has been introduced in both the Senate, with Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., as a sponsor, and the House. The act, based on a seven-state pilot program, would provide all 50 states with the financial resources to check applicants for state criminal histories and access a national FBI data base.

Wisconsin was one of the seven pilot states, and from February of 2007 to March of 2007 checked 9,950 persons and excluded 265 of those from employment, or 2.7 percent of the applicants. The seven states together excluded an average of 2.9 percent of applicants.

The bill would allow employers to bill Medicare and Medicaid for the cost of background checks, allow some flexibility in allowing persons to work while the check is being done, provide cleared workers with a certificate good for two years showing they have passed the check and imposes penalties on employers who ignore background check results in hiring.

Caring for our nation’s older population is a clear responsibility we have. This bill is one way to ensure those caring for the elderly are less likely to do them harm.

No comments: