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obligation to report abuse of a neighbor?

Nurses   (2,222 Views 15 Comments)
by maxsmom maxsmom (New Member) New Member

642 Profile Views; 4 Posts

Sorry if this is long.

I live in an apartment on the ground floor. My neighbors upstairs are an older couple and I'm aware that the wife has Alzheimer's disease. In the last year she has attempted to flush various items down the toilet (three separate occasions) and it overflowed into my bathroom (one time it flooded about 1/4 of my apartment - it was SO gross). With the past occurrences I was reassured that the woman was usually at adult daycare or had an adult son home with her during the day. I'm now aware that this is untrue. Instead, her husband leaves for work in the morning, checks in at lunch and then returns late afternoon when finished working.

I've also been made aware that their apartment is relatively unkept and she appears to be "bruised" (although I think this is NOT the result of physical abuse, but possibly falling).

I believe this constitutes neglect. It also seems to me that she poses a potential danger to herself and others (at least this time it's just an overflowing toilet, what happens when she decided to cook something?).

I can't tolerate her situation, but I'm worried about reporting it. So, can I report the neglect as an anonymous, concerned neighbor or am I obligated to report it as an RN? It would seem that because she's not a patient of mine, I could report it anonymously. I'm concerned about getting into a battle that involves my professional status when it's not actually related to my work (does that make sense?).

Opinions would be greatly appreciated!

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6,487 Posts; 21,377 Profile Views

You can report it anonymously. This is not in the course of your work.

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TheCommuter is a BSN, RN and specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

1 Follower; 228 Articles; 27,607 Posts; 316,706 Profile Views

Report it anonymously. How would you feel if this woman seriously harmed herself, accidentally burned the apartment building down due to carelessness, or went hungry after being home alone for hours?

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4 Posts; 642 Profile Views

Report it anonymously. How would you feel if this woman seriously harmed herself, accidentally burned the apartment building down due to carelessness, or went hungry after being home alone for hours?

I have no doubt about whether to report it, just if I have to do it in a professional capacity. I'm definitely concerned about these exact potential outcomes.

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MrsMommaRN specializes in orthopaedics.

507 Posts; 7,186 Profile Views

:twocents: I would personally call adult services. There has to be someone to help them. It isn't fair to this person. All calls and reports are usually anonymous.

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TheCommuter is a BSN, RN and specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych.

1 Follower; 228 Articles; 27,607 Posts; 316,706 Profile Views

I have no doubt about whether to report it, just if I have to do it in a professional capacity. I'm definitely concerned about these exact potential outcomes.
I had previously suggested to report it anonymously, because you do not need to involve yourself in a professional capacity. You have not noticed the abuse during the course of a workday, and she is not one of your patients. Therefore, you possess absolutely no professional connection with this woman that would warrant its reporting in a professional capacity.

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Elvish is a BSN, DNP, RN, NP and specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.

3 Followers; 17 Articles; 5,259 Posts; 65,992 Profile Views

I'd report it as a neighbor, not as a nurse.

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fleur-de-lis is a BSN, RN and specializes in RN, Cardiac Step Down/Tele Unit.

273 Posts; 5,142 Profile Views

I thought nurses were required to report any suspicion of abuse if the abused is under 18 or over 65 - does this only apply if you encounter the person on the job? I assumed it would apply even outside of the work environment, but I never thought to ask.

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6,372 Posts; 34,512 Profile Views

I thought nurses were required to report any suspicion of abuse if the abused is under 18 or over 65 - does this only apply if you encounter the person on the job? I assumed it would apply even outside of the work environment, but I never thought to ask.

Please check with your state BON for clarification, but in most states, the professional duty to report abuse (child, elder) applies to patients you encounter in a professional setting, not the public in general. While most nurses would agree that there is a moral obligation to report any abuse, it is probably not legally required.

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75 Posts; 1,408 Profile Views

I really think you should report it. The safety of everyone in your apartment complex is at risk.

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All_Smiles_RN specializes in Cardiology.

527 Posts; 6,034 Profile Views

How do you know for certain that she is alone? I dislike the term of abuse being used here. It sounds to me like an aged couple trying to take care of each other. Maybe you could talk to the husband first. Maybe they have children or someone who can help them?

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3,270 Posts; 17,165 Profile Views

Who do you think is going to go help her? All that can be done is she will be placed in a facility and burden the family with $5000+ bills monthly for her care.

There should be other ways to help these people than run and report it to Adult Protection Services (whose job it is to treat everything as a criminal investigation)and cause more grief than they are already chewing on.

It sounds like the husband is doing the best he can under the circumstances, are there not neighbors who could volunteer to check in on her now and then, though I know most people don't want to get involved to the point where it would actually require any real effort on their part...I feel badly for those involved.

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