Friday, August 18, 2017

Mysteries at the End of Life

Every once in a while, I find something so well written, that even if not strictly speaking an "elder law" related piece, I have to share it here.  

Here's one such example.  Of course, under the right combination of circumstances, given the secrets people hold to their last hours, there certainly could be legal consequences of the mysteries discussed by Hospice Chaplain Kerry Egan in her piece for the New York Times, "Married to a Mystery Man." 

 

August 18, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Ethical Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Senate Passes Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act

Recently the U.S. Senate passed S 178, the Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act which is "[t]o prevent elder abuse and exploitation and improve the justice system’s response to victims in elder abuse and exploitation cases."

Title I  is "Supporting Federal Cases Involving Elder Justice", Title II  is "Improved Data Collection & Federal Coordination", Title III covers enhanced services to victims of elder abuse, Title IV, the "Robert Matava Elder Abuse Prosecution Act of 2017", includes enhanced penalities for those email & telemarketing schemes targeting elders, as well as interstate initiaties and state training & technical assistance. 

In Title V, Miscellaneous, there are sections that deal with  GAO reports, "[c]ourt-appointed guardianship oversight activities under the Elder Justice Act...," outreach to both state and local law enforcement and a requirement that the AG "publish model power of attorney legislation for the purpose of preventing elder abuse" (section 504) and "publish best practices for improving guardianship proceedings and model legislation  relating to guardianship proceedings for the purpose of preventing elder abuse."

 

 

August 8, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 7, 2017

New Report on LGBT Elders

MAP (Movement Advancement Project) has released a new report, Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults. Here is a brief description:

It is estimated that there are approximately 2.7 million LGBT adults aged 50 and older in the United States, 1.1 million of whom are 65 and older. Understanding Issues Facing LGBT Older Adults provides an overview of their unique needs and experiences so that service providers, advocates, the aging network, and policymakers can consider these factors when serving this population or passing laws that impact older adults and the LGBT community

In addition to the 32 page report available for download, you can also access a video, Aging as LGBT: Two Stories and 3 infographics, Lasting Impact of Discrimination, Who are LGBT Elders and Aging as LGBT: Two Stories which is also available in large print for download

August 7, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Discrimination, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Las Vegas Guardian Sentenced Following Conviction for Theft and Exploitation

Clark County, Nevada has been at the center of serious allegations of abuse by court-appointed guardians, including "public" guardians, as we have reported here in the past. Most recently, the county was the site of a conviction and sentencing of a woman who was charged with theft from her "long-time companion," the incapacitated person she was appointed to protect.

Helen Natko was found guilty by a Las Vegas jury in April of theft and exploitation of a vulnerable person:

Natko raised suspicions when she transferred nearly $200,000 out of a joint account. Natko returned the money but that's when Del's daughter, Terri Black, tried to protect her father leading to a guardianship case. 

 

"That began our 4 year odyssey of pain and sorrow that continues to this day for my family," says Terri. She says the most painful part was not having quality time with her father in his final days.  

Although the prosecutor (and the protected person's family members) sought "prison time" following the conviction, ultimately the state court judge sentenced Natko to 5 years probation, a $10,000 fine and a bar on "gambling."  Further,  according to Las Vegas Contact 13 KTNV news reports, "she's disqualified to be a guardian under new laws passed" since the channel's investigation and news series exposed problems in the county's guardianship system.  

For more see Contact 13: Guardian Sentenced to Probation.  My thanks for the update from Rick  Black, the son-in-law of the victim in this case.   It's been a long haul for the family.  Mr. Black commented, "We are satisfied with the [July 31, 2017] sentence. Although we wanted prison time, it wasn't in the statutes.  Thanks to the many victim family members and advocates who came to support Terri [Rick's wife]." 

Mr. Black is a volunteer with Americans Against Abusive Probate Guardianship (AAAPG), which was founded in Florida in 2013 by Sam J Sugar, M.D., in response to his own experiences in the Miami-Dade probate court.   

My thanks to those who wrote to correct my earlier mistake in describing the history of AAAPG. 

 

August 2, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Crimes, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Intervention as Mitigation of Elder Mistreatment?

The National Adult Protective Services Association (NAPSA) and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency announce a free upcoming webinar, The Abuse Intervention Model: A Pragmatic Approach to Intervention for Elder Mistreatment. Set for August 9, 2017 at 2 p.m. edt, the "webinar will present the Abuse Intervention Model (AIM), which is a simple, coherent framework of known risk factors of the victim, perpetrator, and environment that applies to all types of abuse. Dr. Laura Mosqueda will discuss the details of the AIM, and present case studies on how the AIM can be applied to APS work."  Click here to register.  To read more about the intervention model, click here.

July 26, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Webinar on Elder Abuse-Insight into Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA)

Justice in Aging has announced a free webinar on Juhttp://www.justiceinaging.org/webinar-elder-abuse-insight-victims-crimes-act-voca/ly 31, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. edt, Elder Abuse-Insight into Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA). Here is a description of the webiniar

The Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) supports crime victims programs that assist victims of sexual assault, spousal abuse, child abuse, or other previously underserved victims of crimes. In recent years, VOCA has supported elder abuse programs, including certain specified legal assistance expenses that help crime victims.

Legal aid programs play a crucial role in accessing justice for elder abuse victims. In this webinar, Elder Abuse-Insight into Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) and Legal Aid Support, Steve Derene, Executive Director of the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (NAVAA), will explain VOCA and its potential for supporting elder justice initiatives in legal services programs. Kathy Buckley, Manager of the Victim’s Services Program at the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency will provide insight into the programs the Commission supports through VOCA.

The webinar will emphasize key details legal aid programs should understand when applying for VOCA funding to support elder justice work.

And did I mention, it's free? To register, click here.

July 19, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 19, 2017

Denver DA & PD Units on Elder Abuse

The Denver Post reported recently that the Denver DA and the Denver Police are taking steps to combat elder and vulnerable adult abuse.  Denver DA, police form units to protect elderly, developmentally disabled   explains that the DA has created a division within the office on elder abuse. As well the Chief of Denver PD has established a special victims unit  for elders and vulnerable adults who are victims of abuse.  The DA's division "will focus on physical abuse and neglect crimes against at-risk adults aged 70 or older, as well as adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities ... [as well as] prosecute financial fraud cases that target at-risk adults." The PD unit will work together with DA investigators and social workers to investigate reports. 

Colorado uses age 70 for victims of elder abuse, and the law includes mandatory reporting.  The law seems to be having a positive effect, based on the statistics in the article: "the number of Denver police investigations related to at-risk adults climbed adults climbed 271 percent from 228 to 847 cases between 2013 and 2016, according to department statistics. Elder abuse cases make up the bulk of the cases. Police investigated 735 elder abuse cases in 2016, a 418 percent increase above the 142 cases investigated in 2013."

June 19, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 12, 2017

Free Webinar: Impact of Undue Influence, Advanced Webinar on Elder Abuse

Justice in Aging has announced its next webinar, Elder Abuse – The Impact of Undue Influence., scheduled for June 27, 2017 at 2 p.m. edt.  Here is the summary of the program

Perpetrators of financial exploitation and other forms of elder abuse may exert undue influence to control the decision-making of their victims. Learning to recognize signs of undue influence will help legal and aging network service providers prevent or redress elder abuse and enhance victims’ access to justice.

Lori Stiegel and Mary Joy Quinn, nationally recognized experts on elder abuse and undue influence, will present this advanced webinar, Elder Abuse: The Impact of Undue Influence, to help legal and aging network professionals understand the dynamics and indicators of undue influence, and the relationship of this psychological process to elder abuse and guardianship.

During this training, Lori will discuss the concept and its connection to capacity and consent, tactics and process, and legal remedies. Mary Joy will provide an example of how undue influence is defined in California law and share an undue influence screening tool for Adult Protective Services that lawyers and other professionals should be aware of and can use in their own practice.

To register for the webinar, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the register now button. .

June 12, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Talking Elder Abuse Toolkit

With World Elder Abuse Awareness Day next month, I was particularly interested in the Frameworks Institute Toolkit on talking elder abuse.  Talking Elder Abuse is divided into 6 parts: introduction, big picture, anticipating public thinking, guides to key framing, sample communications and other resources.

This toolkit is designed to help experts and advocates who work in this field to increase public understanding of

  • why elder abuse is a matter of public concern
  • the causes of elder abuse, including the social determinants and environmental factors that can foster the occurrence of abuse, and
  • what solutions can most effectively prevent elder abuse, address existing cases, and improve the conditions and wellbeing of those who have experienced abuse.

This toolkit, sponsored by Archstone Foundation, The John A. Hartford Foundation, and Grantmakers in Aging, and in partnership with the National Center on Elder Abuse at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, models how to apply the FrameWorks Institute’s evidence-based recommendations to messages and conversations about elder abuse and related issues, in order to build public understanding and support. The kit’s materials include:

  • sample communications, such as a “key points” guide and social media content, that can be adapted and repurposed for your organization’s needs
  • communications examples that demonstrate the “do’s and don’ts” of the framing recommendations
  • graphics that illustrate the key concepts of the recommendations
  • annotations that explain the framing strategies being illustrated.

Users are encouraged to borrow toolkit language verbatim if desired—no citation or special permissions are needed—and also to adapt the examples to the immediate needs of a local communications context.

For nearly two decades, FrameWorks research has demonstrated that effective communications can help to engage the public in conversations about complex social issues—such as the causes and consequences of elder abuse and the social policies and programs that can prevent its occurrence and improve the lives of older people in the US. This toolkit is based on the findings of a two-year, multi-method study of elder abuse and aging that queried more than 10,400 Americans’ thinking on these issues. The research included expert interviews, on-the-street interviews, large-scale surveys, and persistence and usability trials. This extensive research included the development, empirical testing, and refinement of the tools and strategies offered in this toolkit.

May 25, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 12, 2017

Preventative "Support Visits" Starting at Age 75 under Consideration in Northern Ireland

On May 10, 2017, my research colleagues Gavin Davidson (Queens University Belfast) and Subhajit Basu (University of Leeds) participated in a policy briefing at Stormont, the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast.  They appeared in support of recommendations by the Commissioner of Older People (COPNI) Eddie Lynch on a major plan for modernization of social care programs for vulnerable adults (of any age).

Professors Davidson and Basu focused on three key recommendations:

  1. Northern Ireland should have a single legislative framework for adult social care with accompanying guidance for implementation. This could either be new or consolidated legislation, based on human rights principles, bringing existing social care law together into one coherent framework.
  1. All older people in Northern Ireland, once they reach the age of 75 years, should be offered a Support Visit by an appropriately trained professional. This will be based on principles of choice and self-determination and is aimed at helping older people to be aware of the support and preventative services that are available to them.
  1. Increasing demands for health and social care reinforce the importance of considering how these services should be funded. All future funding arrangements must be equitable and not discriminate against any group who may have higher levels of need.

The audience, which included researchers, social service program administrators and elected officials (not only from Northern Ireland, but elsewhere, including the Isle of Man), reportedly responded strongly to the recommendations, especially to the concept of specially-trained "support visitors," offered to persons age 75 or older. The intent is to provide individuals with planning support and, where needed, medical assessment.  Guidance and information is often needed for pre-crisis planning, thus moving in the direction of prevention of crises and reduction of need for last-minute response. The support visitor concept has been used successfully in Denmark and other locations in Europe.  The next step for Northern Ireland would likely be a pilot or test project.  

As a co-author of the research reports that led to the COPNI recommendations, working with Professors Gavin Davidson and Subhajit Basu as part of a team headed by Dr. Joe Duffy of Queens University Belfast, I found it an interesting coincidence that at almost the same time as the Northern Ireland government session, I was addressing similar interests in "preventative" planning while speaking on elder abuse in a "Day on the Hill" program at the Capitol in Pennsylvania, hosted by the Alzheimer's Association.  It is clear that on both sides of the Atlantic, we are interested in cost-effective, proactive measures to help people stay in their homes safely.   

May 12, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Ethical Issues, Health Care/Long Term Care, International, Retirement, Social Security, Statistics | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, May 8, 2017

Multi-Disciplinary Team Toolkit

The Elder Justice Initiative (EJI) has announced the release of  a guide and toolkit for creating Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDT).  The EJI has an MDT Technical Assistance Center (or MDT TAC). EJI is also offering a free webinar to help users get started creating an MDT.  The email announcement explains how to get started:

The Elder Justice Initiative (EJI) is pleased to announce the launch of the new Multidisciplinary Team Guide and Toolkit. The Toolkit is designed for anyone looking to create or grow a local elder abuse MDT, regardless of their experience with MDTs. The web-based Toolkit is enhanced for use on mobile devices and contains easy-to-download PDF sample documents and citations.

On May 30, take a live walk through the Toolkit. The EJI webinar will cover many aspects of the Toolkit, including:

  • Layout and usability
  • Highlights from each chapter
  • Questions and feedback

To download the 10 chapter toolkit, click here. To register for the webinar, click here.

 

May 8, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Cases, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

FINRA Rule on Financial Exploitation of Elders

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has announced that the SEC has approved a new rule that is specific to customers who are elders.  The summary explains Regulatory Notice 17-11

The SEC approved: (1) the adoption of new FINRA Rule 2165 (Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults) to permit members to place temporary holds on disbursements of funds or securities from the accounts of specified customers where there is a reasonable belief of financial exploitation of these customers; and (2) amendments to FINRA Rule 4512 (Customer Account Information) to require members to make reasonable efforts to obtain the name of and contact information for a trusted contact person for a customer’s account. New Rule 2165 and the amendments to Rule 4512 become effective February 5, 2018.

The full notice is available as a pdf here. The text of the new rule starts on page 9 of the full notice.

Here is the background from the notice, to give you more information about the reasons behind this rule

With the aging of the U.S. population, financial exploitation of seniors is a serious and growing problem. FINRA’s Securities Helpline for Seniors® has highlighted issues relating to financial exploitation of this group of investors, including the need for members to be able to more quickly and effectively address suspected financial exploitation of seniors and other specified adults The amendments to Rule 4512 and new Rule 2165 provide members with a way under FINRA rules to respond to situations in which they have a reasonable basis to believe that financial exploitation has occurred, is occurring, has been attempted or will be attempted. Members can better protect their customers from financial exploitation if they have the ability to contact a customer’s designated trusted contact person and, when appropriate, place a temporary hold on a disbursement of funds or securities from a customer’s account. (citations omitted)

Take a look!

 

May 4, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Webinar: Elder Financial Abuse & Medicaid Denials

Justice in Aging has announced a free webinar for May 17th, 2017 from 2-3 edt on Elder Financial Abuse & Medicaid Denials.   Here is a description of the webinar

Financial exploitation can devastate low-income older adults, especially those who rely on Medicaid for their health and long-term care. For example, older adults who are victims of financial abuse may be denied eligibility for Medicaid because their abuser won’t turn over their bank records. Without Medicaid eligibility, the older adult may be threatened with eviction or involuntary discharge from a nursing home because of nonpayment. Legal services are critical to helping older victims of financial exploitation receive the medical care and services to which they are entitled. Join us for Elder Financial Abuse and Medicaid Denials to learn how to identify victims of elder financial abuse, what problems this exploitation can cause for Medicaid eligibility, and how legal services attorneys can help their older clients receive the benefits they need and prevent future problems accessing Medicaid.

To register for the webinar,https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5875005469626032643?source=SALSA.  Did I mention, it's free!

April 26, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care, Medicaid, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

War on Elder Financial Exploitation

The New York Times ran a story a few days ago about preventing financial exploitation. Declaring War on Financial Abuse of Older People starts with the story of a woman who acts when she finds out her grandmother had lost her life savings. (Just fyi, her grandmother's case was featured in a story in the New York Times in 2015). The woman didn't stop with just her grandmother's case, however. First she pushed to get action for her grandmother. Then, the story explains, she "[became] an activist, traveling around her home state of Washington to lecture and testify about the financial exploitation of older Americans. She has also become a lobbyist, exhorting state lawmakers to pass legislation that would toughen penalties for people who take financial advantage of vulnerable older people like her grandmother."

The article notes the variations among state financial exploitation statutes and how some states don't have specific elder financial exploitation statutes

A number of states have laws like this on the books, but they vary widely. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks such laws, this type of financial abuse is an active topic in state capitals. Last year, 33 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, considered measures against the illegal or improper use of seniors’ money, property or assets, in addition to fraud or identity theft targeting the older people.

Some states have shored up their existing laws. Last year, Idaho revised its definition of neglect of vulnerable adults to include exploitation. Illinois extended the statute of limitations to seven years from three for prosecuting a person accused of taking financial advantage of an older person or a person with disabilities.

Also, last year, Alabama passed the Protection of Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation Act, to add a layer of protection to existing laws by requiring brokers and investment advisers who believe a vulnerable adult is being exploited to notify the Human Resources Department and the Alabama Securities Commission.

In those states without the specific statutes, convictions come with lesser penalties than those with specific elder financial exploitation statutes. "Stiffer penalties are necessary to combat a growing drain on the savings of those 60 and over, according to the National Center for Elder Abuse, a federal clearinghouse. In 2015, in Washington state alone, there were nearly 8,000 complaints to adult protective services about financial exploitation, a more than 70 percent increase over 2010. And such crimes are likely to climb simply because the retiree population is growing."

The article also discusses efforts at the federal level, including the Elder Justice Act and the efforts of the Department of Justice.

Thanks to Professor Naomi Cahn for bringing the article to our attention. Congratulations to Naomi and her co-author Amy Ziettlow on the publication of their book, Homeward Bound: Modern Families, Elder Care, and Loss.

April 16, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Ability to Make Decisions and Correlation to Elder Mistreatment

The National Center on Elder Abuse released a new research to practice brief on  Decision-Making Ability and Risk of Elder Mistreatment. This is the introduction to the brief:  

There are many factors relevant to decision-making ability of older people including changes in the brain and cognition and social functioning. These changes can result in decision-making impairments that affect an older person’s ability to pay bills, drive, follow recipes, adhere to medication schedules, or refuse medical treatment (Braun & Moye, 2010; IOM, 2015). Decision-making ability may fluctuate at a given point in time (Falk et al., 2014), and while an older person may lack decision-making ability in one area, they may retain it in other areas (Braun & Moye, 2010). Decision-making ability is of special concern for the field of elder mistreatment because impaired decision-making can lead to an increased risk for abuse and exploitation among older people (Spreng et al., 2016). Thus, understanding the many factors relevant to decision-making ability is imperative to reduce risk of abuse and exploitation while maintaining and promoting autonomy among older people.

The 4 page brief covers key terms, explains how cognitive aging and capacity affect decision-making, the differences between medical decisional capacity and financial capacity and risk factors for financial exploitation.   This would be great to use in our classes!

 

April 11, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Financial Services Response to Fighting Financial Exploitation

We all know that financial exploitation is a serious and significant problem in the U.S.  I was interested in this article from Investment News detailing efforts that the financial services industry and others are taking to help their elder clients protect themselves from financial exploitation. Advisers taking steps to protect elderly explains although "[t]here's widespread acceptance in the financial services industry that elderly financial abuse is a growing problem, but there's no universally accepted game plan for how to respond... Many times firms' internal procedures will involve adviser education and training, and gathering third-party contact information for accounts."  The article highlights the efforts of Wells Fargo Advisors which the article explains: "Wells Fargo launched an 11-member team more than two years ago within its compliance department that serves as an internal clearinghouse and case manager when advisers see a potential problem with a client. ... The unit has taken about 4,000 reports from the field, about half of which were incidences of abuse. Wells' Elder Care Initiatives often involves state adult protective services or securities regulators in the matters.:

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has also launched efforts to help protect their elder clients, according to the article. For example, one step Merrill Lynch has taken is to have "created a contact authorization form that gives advisers a trusted person to reach out to in case of suspected fraud or to obtain more information about behavioral changes linked to possible exploitation."

The article also highlights the efforts of Morgan Stanley, Charles Schwab, Edward Jones, and Fidelity Investments.  As for smaller firms, they aren't lagging behind.  For example, "[s]maller firms also are responding to the elder-abuse threat. For more than a year, Romano Wealth Management has had in place steps that its nine advisers follow in reporting potential abuse to the compliance officer, who then decides whether to involve adult protective services or regulators."

The article also discusses the efforts at the federal level. "The industry is starting to get protection from regulators. In February, the Securities and Exchange Commission approved a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. rule designed to curb elder abuse. It requires brokers to make “reasonable efforts” to identify a “trusted contact” for investment accounts. It also permits them to prevent the disbursement of funds from the account and to notify the contact if the broker suspects the client is an abuse victim." The article also mentions several states that have passed laws that require investment advisors to notify APS as well as state regulators if financial exploitation is suspected.

The article discusses some other efforts and provides a good picture of various efforts taking place both by legislation and industry efforts.

 

April 6, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

More on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch on End-of-Life Issues

Paula Span, the thoughtful columnist on aging issues from the New York Times, offers "Gorsuch Staunchly Opposes "Aid-in-Dying." Does It Matter?"   The article suggests that the "real" battle over aid-in-dying will be in state courts, not the Supreme Court.

I'm in the middle of reading Judge Gorsuch's 2006 book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. There are many things to say about this book, not the least of which is the impressive display of the Judge's careful sorting of facts, legal history and legal theory to analyze the various advocacy approaches to end-of-life decisions, with or without the assistance of third-parties.  

With respect to what might reach the Supreme Court Court, he writes (at page 220 of the paperback edition): 

The [Supreme Court's] preference for state legislative experimentation in Gonzales [v. Oregon] seems, at the end of the day, to leave the state of the assisted suicide debate more or less where the Court found it, with the states free to resolve the question for themselves.  Even so, it raises interesting questions for at least two future sorts of cases one might expect to emerge in the not-too-distant future.  The first sort of cases are "as applied" challenges asserting a constitutional right to assist suicide or euthanasia limited to some particular group, such as the terminally ill or perhaps those suffering grave physical (or maybe even psychological) pain....

 

The second sort of cases involve those like Lee v. Oregon..., asserting that laws allowing assisted suicide violate the equal protection guarantee...."

While most of the book is a meticulous analysis of law and policy, in the end he also seems to signal a personal concern, writing "Is it possible that the Journal of Clinical Oncology study is right and the impulse for assistance in suicide, like the impulse for old-fashioned suicide, might more often than not be the result of an often readily treatable condition?" 

My thanks to New York attorney, now Florida resident, Karen Miller for pointing us to the NYT article.

February 28, 2017 in Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Crimes, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Discrimination, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, Federal Cases, Health Care/Long Term Care, Religion, Science, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2017

CNN Report: Sexual Assaults in Nursing Homes

CNN has published an investigative report on sexual assault of residents in nursing homes.  Sick, dying and raped in America's nursing homes opens with these paragraphs "Some of the victims can't speak. They rely on walkers and wheelchairs to leave their beds. They have been robbed of their memories. They come to nursing homes to be cared for... Instead, they are sexually assaulted... The unthinkable is happening at facilities throughout the country: Vulnerable seniors are being raped and sexually abused by the very people paid to care for them."

The report looks at a variety of issues and the failings of the system in responding to the attacks.

In cases reviewed by CNN, victims and their families were failed at every stage. Nursing homes were slow to investigate and report allegations because of a reluctance to believe the accusations -- or a desire to hide them. Police viewed the claims as unlikely at the outset, dismissing potential victims because of failing memories or jumbled allegations. And because of the high bar set for substantiating abuse, state regulators failed to flag patterns of repeated allegations against a single caregiver.

The facts of the cases are hard to read but important in understanding the scope and significance of these crimes.   The perpetrators were as young as teenagers or as old as the victims.  Some were caregivers, others residents.

Rather than summarizing any further, just read the story.  Nothing I can add here would give you the same impact.

Responses to the report from the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care and others can be accessed here.

February 26, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Health Care/Long Term Care | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Texas Elder Abuse Statute Used to Convict and Sentence Doctor to Life in Prison

The deeply disturbing medical practice history of Christopher Duntsch, who worked as a neurosurgeon in Texas until 2013, culminated in his February 2017 conviction and sentence of life in prison for his injuries to a 74-year old patient.  It is relatively rare for medical "malpractice" cases to lead to criminal charges, but as detailed in news articles covering the trial, there was strong, adverse medical testimony about how Duntsch's improper surgical procedures caused a horrific outcome.

Initially accusing Duntsch of criminal acts arising in the context of surgical procedures to several of his patients, the prosecution ultimately focused the criminal trial on his 2012 spinal surgery on a single patient under Texas Penal Code Section 22.04, for "Injury to a Child, Elderly Individual, or Disabled Individual." The pertinent portion of the statute provides:

"(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence, by act . . . causes to a . . . elderly individual . . . : (1) serious bodily injury."      

The offense becomes a first degree felony, if it is proven that the conduct was "committed intentionally or knowingly." If the conduct had been "only" reckless, the offense would be a felony of the second degree.

Under the statute, an "elderly individual" is defined as a "person 65 year of age or older." 

In a Washington Post article on the conviction, a Texas attorney is quoted:

“I cannot recall a physician being indicted for aggravated assault for acts committed during surgery,” Toby Shook, a Dallas defense attorney who spent 23 years working as a Dallas County prosecutor, told the magazine. “And not just Dallas County — I don’t recall hearing about it anywhere.”

February 21, 2017 in Crimes, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Ethical Issues, State Cases, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mark Your Calendar-DOJ webinar

Do you know about the DOJ Elder Justice Initiative? If not, then this webinar is for you. Even if you do know about it, still register for this webinar!  According to the email I received,

On January 26, 2017, the Elder Justice Initiative will be hosting a webinar to highlight resources and information available on the Elder Justice Website. 

This webinar will be hosted by Susan Lynch and Sid Stahl and will introduce you to the Department of Justice’s Elder Justice Website and will help you to navigate the many tools and resources available on DOJ’s website for elder abuse prosecutors, law enforcement, victim advocates, victims, families, caregivers, and elder abuse researchers.  These tools can help you find assistance when in need, get involved in combatting elder abuse and financial exploitation, and educate you on elder justice programs operating at the federal, state, and local levels. 

Registration opens the week before the webinar.

January 15, 2017 in Consumer Information, Crimes, Current Affairs, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Federal Statutes/Regulations, Programs/CLEs, Webinars | Permalink | Comments (0)