With its high numbers of senior citizens Florida should be on the cutting edge of addressing geriatric care; the state’s medical schools should be adding new residency spots for geriatricians and leading the way on research and treatment of seniors.

Florida, the senior citizen state, needs to do a better job of regulating its nursing homes.

About 1 in 5 nursing home patients transported to emergency rooms in 2016 showed signs of abuse or neglect, according to a federal report from the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

In response a spokeswoman for the Florida Health Care Association said the definition of neglect is vague, reported the News Service of Florida.

Actually the definition of neglect for adults that’s provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families is quite detailed:

“Neglect means the failure or omission on the part of the caregiver or vulnerable adult to provide the care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the physical and mental health of the vulnerable adult including, but not limited to, food, clothing, medicine, shelter, supervision and medical services, which a prudent person would consider essential for the well-being of a vulnerable adult. The term ‘neglect’ also means the failure of a caregiver or vulnerable adult to make a reasonable effort to protect a vulnerable adult from abuse, neglect or exploitation by others.”

The only patients reviewed for the study were those with serious conditions such as lacerations, fractures, poisoning and gangrene.

Auditors reviewed a random sample of 32 claims out of a total of 37,600 high-risk claims; they recommended better training of nursery staff to identify and report instances of abuse or neglect.

Shortage of geriatricians

The United States doesn’t have enough geriatricians — physicians who specialize in the care of senior citizens. Nationally there about 70,000 pediatricians and 7,000 geriatricians, yet senior citizens are more likely to need hospital stays.

Just as prevention is essential for children, it also is a key for seniors. Just as toddlers are different than adolescents, there are different stages in a senior’s life from age 65 to 100.

In a National Public Radio website interview, California geriatrician Louise Aronson said it is the rare senior citizen who is not dealing with several health conditions. Despite that, Aronson said, while there are 17 categories of vaccines for children, there is just one for seniors.

“We have not optimized vaccines for older adults the way we have for other age groups,” Aronson said.

With its high numbers of senior citizens Florida should be on the cutting edge of addressing geriatric care; the state’s medical schools should be adding new residency spots for geriatricians and leading the way on research and treatment of seniors.

Vaccines are safe

Vaccines have prevented 732,000 deaths among children in a 20-year period, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in The New York Times; before vaccines measles killed more than 400 children per year.

During the past 30 years billions of doses of vaccines have been given to Americans. The National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program typically receives two claims for every 1 million doses, and two-thirds of the claims have been dismissed over the past 30 years.

This editorial originally appeared in the (Jacksonville) Florida Times-Union.