Nursing home abuse and neglect is a heinous crime that affects the most vulnerable members of our community. Colorado is one of many states that have taken steps to combat the problem, and in 2014, passed a law that made it mandatory for health care and social workers to report abuse.
Under the law, a wide range of professionals, including nurses, chiropractors, law enforcement, dentists, nursing home staff and home health care workers must report the abuse or exploitation of anyone 70 or older within 24 hours or face misdemeanor charges. Since the law went into effect earlier last year, there have been more than 3,800 reports.
Colorado Adult Protective Services (CAPS) utilizes resources to combat the abuse of senior citizens. Data taken from CAPS shows that citizens aged 80 to 89 were most at risk for abuse, accounting for 44 percent of cases.
What Constitutes Abuse?
According to CAPS, common types of abuse include subjecting elderly patients to medications and treatments against their consent, financial exploitation, neglect, physical abuse and theft. In Colorado, after a report is made, law enforcement will share the report with CAPS within 24 hours. CAPS may then become involved and offer the abused senior protective services while the abuser may be investigated for criminal charges to proceed.
Although abuse is illegal and abusers can faces criminal charges, it is still a civil case regardless of the outcome of any pending criminal investigation. If the circumstances allow it, victims and their families may be able to sue for damages. The only way to know for sure is to contact an attorney.
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You can learn more about the new Colorado law by visiting the state of Colorado’s website.