In Michigan
4:44 pm
Tue December 8, 2009

County's elder death review team releases three-year results

Lansing, MI – Health and law enforcement officials in Ingham County say a three-year partnership is helping to uncover otherwise unreported cases of elder abuse.

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The county's elder death review team includes medical examiners, police and firefighters and prosecutors. Within its first two years, the team uncovered two homicide cases that were later successfully prosecuted. Such results are rare, but Ingham County health director Dean Sienko says the collaboration is helping to give each case a more thorough review.

"We may hear something at the medical examiner's office that maybe the police don't think is as suspicious, or vice versa," Sienko explains. "And so, when we bring our collective minds together, we come to, I think, a much better conclusion as to what's happening than we do when we think about these independently."

Officials say most reported cases of elder abuse in mid-Michigan are linked to family members, though many other cases involve professional caretakers. But on the whole, team members say cases of elder abuse are grossly underreported.