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The Gerontologist 44:703-708 (2004)
© 2004 The Gerontological Society of America

Advancing the Field of Elder Mistreatment: A New Model for Integration of Social and Medical Services

Laura Mosqueda, MD1,, Kerry Burnight, PhD1, Solomon Liao, MD1 and Bryan Kemp, PhD1

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Laura Mosqueda, MD, College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, 101 The City Drive South, Pavilion III, ZC 1150, Orange, CA 92868. E-mail: mosqueda{at}

Purpose: The purpose of this work is to describe the development and operation of a new model for integration of medical and social services. The Vulnerable Adult Specialist Team (VAST) provides Adult Protective Services (APS) and criminal justice agencies with access to medical experts who examine medical and psychological injuries of victims of elder abuse. Design and Methods: This retrospective, descriptive analysis included community-dwelling elders and adults with disabilities who were reported for mistreatment and referred to VAST (n = 269). Results: Most cases came from APS for mental status and physical examination for evidence of abuse. Cases referred to a medical response team (n = 269) were significantly different from cases that were not referred (n = 9,505). Implications: Ninety-seven percent of those who referred cases to VAST indicated that the team was helpful in confirming abuse, documenting impaired capacity, reviewing medications and medical conditions, facilitating the conservatorship process, persuading the client or family to take action, and supporting the need for law enforcement involvement. As a result, VAST has become institutionalized in our county. Amenable to replication, medical response teams for elder abuse may be useful in other counties across the nation.

Key Words: Elder mistreatment • Medical • Financial abuse • Neglect • Self-neglect • Demonstration model • Forensic

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Copyright © 2004 by The Gerontological Society of America.