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Dependent Adult Abuse

DIA follows up on, investigates, and prosecutes instances of alleged administrative dependent adult abuse in Iowa health facilities and programs.

Signs of Dependent Adult Abuse or Neglect

Signs of abuse and neglect in dependent adults include but are not limited to the following indicators. The signs also include indicators of drug diversion, a form of abuse in which patients are deprived of necessary medication by their caretakers.

  • Unusual bruising or bleeding, open wounds, bed sores or cuts
  • Burns and abrasions
  • Sudden and unexplained change in weight
  • Soiling, poor hygiene, smell of urine or feces
  • Use of physical or chemical restraints in excess of doctor’s orders
  • Infections
  • Loss of hair
  • Torn, stained, or bloody clothing or bedding
  • Disappearance of personal items
  • Sudden and unusual financial transactions
  • Health care worker keeping, selling, or throwing away patient medications
  • A doctor selling prescriptions
  • Nurse ordering medication without doctor’s approval

Report Abuse

If you suspect dependent adult abuse in a program or facility, please report the incident using DIA's online  contact form. After you submit a report, trained personnel will review the information and determine if DIA staff should investigate or if the incident should be referred to another government agency. If DIA investigates, a full report will be made. And, if abuse is confirmed, the offender's name will be listed on the abuse registry.

Additional Adult Abuse Resources

Guidelines for Dependent Adult Abuse Reporting

In its investigation of dependent adult abuse reports, DIA must prove that there is a dependent adult victim, a caretaker, and abuse present in the incident. There are different categories of abuse: physical injury, unreasonable confinement, unreasonable punishment, assault, exploitation, sexual exploitation, sexual offense, and neglect.

The department takes all investigations of dependent adult abuse very seriously, and a determination and placement of an individual’s name on the abuse registry is only done after much consideration.