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Geriatrics & Gerontology Expert Witnesses

Find the right expert for cases involving care of the elderly

Geriatrics is a sub-specialty of internal medicine and family medicine that focuses on care of older adults. It aims to promote health by preventing and treating diseases and disabilities in older adults. A geriatrician is a medical doctor who specializes in the care of elderly patients.

To become a Board-Certified geriatrician in the United States, a doctor must complete a three-year internal medicine or family medicine residency program, followed by a one-year fellowship in geriatric medicine. During the fellowship, the physician receives specialized training in the care of older adults, including the management of multiple chronic conditions, geriatric pharmacology, and end-of-life care. After completing the fellowship, the physician is eligible to take the certification examination offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine or the American Board of Family Medicine.

Geriatricians are trained to manage complex medical conditions more common among older adults, such as dementia, frailty, and multiple chronic illnesses. They also focus on the unique needs of their patients, such as mobility, mental health, and social support.

Geriatrics is distinct from gerontology, which studies the aging process itself. However, geriatrics is sometimes referred to as “medical gerontology.”

What is geriatric malpractice?

Because geriatricians treat patients who often already have complex medical issues and are frail, the consequences of geriatric malpractice can be significant. Some examples of geriatric malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis of medical conditions in elderly patients. Geriatricians need to follow diagnostic standards of care that are tailored for the elderly, which may be different from standards of care for younger patients. For example, older adults often have a lower baseline body temperature, so a body temperature in the normal range for a younger person might indicate fever in an elderly patient.
  • Medication errors, including failing to account for medication interactions. This is a common issue in geriatrics because older adults are often on multiple medications for various chronic and acute conditions.
  • Failure to communicate adequately with the patient’s caregiver or conservator, as well as other medical professionals, particularly because elderly patients may not be able to remember or communicate medical information themselves.

How geriatricians can serve as expert witnesses

Geriatricians are valuable expert witnesses in all types of injury cases that involve elderly victims, including personal injury matters such as car accidents and slip and falls, and especially in nursing home negligence cases. A geriatrician can:

  • Assess the nature and extent of injuries sustained by an elderly victim.
  • Provide an opinion on whether the standard of care provided by a nursing home or caregiver was adequate and appropriate.
  • Determining the cause of injuries sustained by an older adult in an accident and whether the injuries resulted from negligence or an underlying medical condition.
  • Provide a professional opinion on the long-term impact of injuries sustained by an elderly person on their quality of life, mobility, and overall health – and just as importantly, an opinion on the quality of life the plaintiff would have had if they were not injured.
  • Help to calculate the value of damages for an elderly plaintiff by providing insight into the cost of future medical care and their likely remaining lifespan.

Speak with an experienced geriatrician about your potential case

Cases involving nursing home negligence, injury to an older adult, or medical malpractice affecting an elderly patient can be highly complex and costly to pursue. An experienced geriatrician can offer an opinion on the facts of the case and the factors that could affect its potential value. If you’re considering a legal matter involving geriatrics, contact Rieback Medical-Legal Consultants today for a free case summary review.

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