Radiologists’ Role in Identifying Elder Abuse

Radiographic findings or patterns can help identify elder abuse.

Radiologists are uniquely positioned to identify elder abuse by identifying radiographic findings suggestive of abuse, according to a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Researchers from the United States and Canada sought to describe knowledge, attitudes, training, and practice experience in elder abuse detection among diagnostic radiologists. They conducted 19 interviews with diagnostic radiologists practicing in a large urban academic medical center.

The researchers found that only two radiologists reported that they had received any formal or informal training in the detection of elder abuse. All subjects believed they had missed cases of elder abuse, and even experienced radiologists reported never having received a request from a referring physician to assess images for evidence suggestive of elder abuse. All subjects reported a desire for additional elder abuse training.

Radiographic findings or patterns that are potentially suggestive of elder abuse include high-energy injuries such as upper rib fractures, injuries in multiple stages of healing, and injuries inconsistent with reported mechanism.

The researchers concluded that radiologists lack training in identifying signs of potential elder abuse and although they were able to identify radiographic findings suggestive of abuse, they would like to learn more.