Retrospective analysis of the efficacy of The Vulnerable and Elderly Assessment Tool
Background: Elder abuse is common in the US, with an estimated 10% of adults over the age of 60 experiencing abuse or neglect by a caregiver annually. The Vulnerable and Elderly Assessment Tool(VEAT) is currently utilized by the Medical Examiners Office of WMed(MEOW) during death scene investigations, facilitating further investigation or autopsy by evaluating the risk factors associated with elders, such as physical signs of abuse. The VEAT has been implemented for the past 3 years to enhance communication between death scene investigators and forensic pathologists in the lab, and has yet to be analyzed. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the efficacy of the current VEAT in application. Methods: This retrospective analysis of MEOW cases includes elders for which a VEAT was completed at the death scene investigation. The judgment of the medical examiner is ultimately decisive, but our completed study will include a comparison of how the VEAT screening tool guides the death scene investigator’s evaluation of the incident. Our completed study will include a comparison of how the VEAT screening tool guides the death scene investigator’s evaluation of the incident. Data collection will be done in two parts. The first is a survey to be given to forensic pathologists to evaluate the subjective priority given to each VEAT indicator. The second is a collection of collection of decedent data including VEAT scores from the MEOW database for the past two years. The preliminary VEAT methodology scoring is not standardized and should not be considered validated. Output should be considered exploratory only. The VEAT results are described as a range between (-)15-(+)15 with a positive number indicating a greater presence of “red flags”. Scores entail positive(+1), negative(-1) or unevaluated (0). Results: Pathologist survey results are pending. Mean VEAT results by category: Overall(n=2016): mean -10.43(±4.10). Females(n=884): mean -9.94(±4.16), Males(n=1177): mean -10.81(±4.03). Manner of Death: Accident(n=283): mean -8.77(±4.15), Homicide(n=7): mean -7.57(±5.56), Indeterminate(n=15): mean -8.67(±4.55), Natural(n=1669): mean -10.69(±4.04), Pending(n=8): mean -8.50(±2.45), Suicide(n=66): mean -11.89(±3.43). Autopsy procedure type: External(n=102): mean -10.22(±4.28), Full(n=160): mean -9.42(±4.36), Hospital(n=2): mean -13.50(±0.71), Limited(n=12): mean -12.42(±2.11), None(n=1706): mean -10.54(±4.06), Storage(n=65): mean -9.92(±4.57). Conclusion: Because the VEAT is an original formula, our study is limited by the lack of statistical significance. The goal of this analysis is to correlate VEAT findings with the pending surveys of pathologists, which will ultimately determine evaluation of the screening tool.