Monday, June 19, 2017
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."
Monday, June 12, 2017
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. .
Thursday, June 8, 2017
World Elder Abuse Day is June 15, 2017. Here is the info from the Administration for Community Living
Each year, an estimated 5 million older adults are abused, neglected, or exploited. Older Americans lose an estimated $2.6 billion or more annually due to elder financial abuse and exploitation, funds that could be used to pay for basic needs such as housing, food, and medical care. Unfortunately, it occurs in every demographic and can happen to anyone—a family member, a neighbor, even you. It is estimated that only one in five of these crimes are discovered.
World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) was launched on June 15, 2006 by the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations (UN). WEAAD aims to provide an opportunity for communities around the world to promote a better understanding of abuse and neglect of older persons by raising awareness of the cultural, social, economic, and demographic processes affecting elder abuse and neglect. In addition, WEAAD is held in support of the UN International Plan of Action acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue. This observance serves as a call-to-action for individuals, organizations, and communities to raise awareness about elder abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
Access the latest World Elder Abuse Awareness Day campaign materials available from the USC Center on Elder Mistreatment . Logos, web banners, stationary templates, sample press releases, and more are available.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
On June 12, 2017, the American Society on Aging, along with the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology is launching a 5 week course on elder mistreatment. Here is the course description for Elder Mistreatment: Prevention of Abuse and Neglect:
Elder mistreatment prevention is not restricted to just stopping abuse and neglect before they occur, but also encompasses bringing abuse to an end once it has begun, preventing abuse from recurring in older adults who have already been victimized, and minimizing the damage of abuse when the cycle of abuse can’t be prevented. In this five-week course, USC faculty members will introduce participants to what is known about primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention within the field of elder mistreatment, teaching some options and remedies for protecting existing victims of elder mistreatment and those who have not yet been mistreated.
The courses are open only to members of the American Society on Aging. To join or learn more, click here. The course is one in a series of gerontology courses offered by the partners. More information about the series is available here. (full disclosure, I'm on the ASA board).
Thursday, May 25, 2017
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.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Earlier this month Kaiser Health News (KHN) ran a story about Ombudsman volunteers. Volunteers Help Ombudsmen Give Nursing Home Residents ‘A Voice’ In Their Care discusses the local ombudsman volunteers and their importance regarding a resident's quality of care.
Ombudsman’s offices, which operate under federal law in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam, investigated 200,000 complaints in 2015, according to the Administration on Aging, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Of those, almost 117,000 were reported to have been resolved in a way that satisfied the person who made the complaint, and about 30,000 were partially resolved. At the top of the list were problems concerning care, residents’ rights, physical environment, admissions and discharges, and abuse and neglect.
Ombudsmen volunteers have a right to enter a long term care facility and talk to residents or anyone else. They investigate complaints and can find issues on their own, and maintain confidentiality. The article emphasizes the importance of volunteer ombudsmen to the success of the programs. There's more involved than putting your name on a list. Ombudsmen volunteers go through training, must pass background checks, are supervised on a few first visits and attend monthly meetings. The article notes the spectrum of experience held by the volunteers but identifies one commonality, "an abundance of compassion."
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
The Justice Clearing House has announced an upcoming webinar scheduled for June 20, 2017 at 3 p.m. edt. Paul Greenwood, Prosecutor from California will present How to Overcome Barriers to Successful Investigation and Prosecution of Elder Abuse Cases.
Drawing upon his 21 years experience of prosecuting both physical and financial elder abuse and neglect felony cases, Paul will highlight some common misconceptions that often hinder the pursuit of justice for elderly victims. He will provide examples of how such barriers can be avoided and will emphasize the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach that should be led by local prosecutors in every jurisdiction. He will confront likely “excuses” as to why certain cases cannot be prosecuted such as “It’s just a civil matter” or “She has dementia and therefore won’t make for an effective witness” or “he gave the money voluntarily so there is no crime.”
To register, click here.
Monday, May 15, 2017
Here's a seven-minute video on elder financial abuse, focusing mostly on "scam artists," from the Pennsylvania Departments of Aging and Banking & Securities. You might find this useful for classes.
I found the discussion of "mild cognitive impairment" interesting, especially as it allows a conversation about planning without the dreaded words, dementia or Alzheimer's Disease.
May 15, 2017 in Cognitive Impairment, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Dementia/Alzheimer’s, Elder Abuse/Guardianship/Conservatorship, Estates and Trusts, Ethical Issues, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, May 8, 2017
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
Thursday, May 4, 2017
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!
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
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
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.
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
NAPSA and NCPEA have released a research to practice brief on Correlates of Depression in Self-Neglecting Older Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study Examining the Role of Alcohol Abuse & Pain in Increasing Vulnerability Here is the summary from this one page brief:
Older adults with confirmed self-neglect report high rates of depressive symptoms. It has been estimated that between 50-62% of older adults with confirmed self-neglect suffer from at least sub-clinical levels of depressive symptomatology. Depressive symptoms in this population have been linked to untreated medical conditions. Further study is needed to understand the association between elder self-neglect and depressive symptoms, including studies determining potential correlates of depression in this population. Identifying such correlates could inform clinical social work and other mental health approaches for reducing depressive symptoms and self-neglect behaviors in this population. The cur-rent cross-sectional study reviewed a host of self-reported cognitive, functional, demo-graphic and clinical measures and identified a positive history of alcohol abuse, low self-rated health and pain as significant correlates of depressive symptomatology in older adults with Adult Protective Services (APS) validated self-neglect. Those with a positive screen for prior alcohol abuse were approximately 3 times more likely to have at least sub-clinical depression (Geriatric Depression Scale-15 >4). Having lower self-rated health was associated with a 53% increase in the likelihood of reporting at least sub-clinical depression. Reporting pain was associated with a 37% increase in the likelihood of reporting at least sub-clinical depression. These findings did not allow for establishing a temporal direction between depression, history of alcohol abuse, low self-rated health or pain. Nevertheless, they do provide insight into possible targets for improving out-comes in elder self-neglect populations given their evidence-based associations with both depression and self-management activities including accessing healthcare and completing activities critical for safety and protection.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
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!
Thursday, April 6, 2017
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
The National Center on Elder Abuse asked various types of guardians to share their experience of being a guardian and offer advice for other guardians. We are delighted to share the first of two stories. If you would like to offer your story of being a guardian, please email us at email@example.com.
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 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.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
North Carolina Appeals Ct Declines to Recognize Pre-Death Cause of Action for Tortious Interference with Expectancy
An interesting decision addressing standing issues arising in the context of a family battle over an 87-year old parent's assets was issued by the North Carolina Court of Appeals on February 21, 2017. In Hauser v Hauser, the court nicely summarizes its own ruling (with my highlighting below):
This appeal presents the issues of whether (1) North Carolina law recognizes a cause of action for tortious interference with an expected inheritance by a potential beneficiary during the lifetime of the testator; and (2) in cases where a living parent has grounds to bring claims for constructive fraud or breach of fiduciary duty such claims may be brought instead by a child of the parent based upon her anticipated loss of an expected inheritance. [Daughter] Teresa Kay Hauser (“Plaintiff”) appeals from the trial court's 3 March 2016 order granting the motion to dismiss of [Son] Darrell S. Hauser and [Son's Wife] Robin E. Whitaker Hauser (collectively “Defendants”) as to her claims for tortious interference with an expected inheritance, constructive fraud, and breach of fiduciary duty as well as her request for an accounting. Because Plaintiff's claims for relief are not legally viable in light of the facts she has alleged, we affirm the trial court's order.
The succinct North Carolina opinion, declines to follow the logic of Harmon v. Harmon, a 1979 decision from the Maine Supreme Court, that addressed the "frontier of the expanding field" on torious interfence of with an advantageous relationship, by recognizing a "pre-death" cause of action.
Currently the North Carolina opinion is available on Westlaw at 2017 WL 672176; I'll update this post with a open access link if it becomes available.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
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.”