Who is required to report?
California Welfare and Institutions Code 15630 defines a "mandated" reporter for elder/dependent adult abuse as anyone who:
"has assumed full or intermittent responsibility for care or custody of an elder or dependent adult, whether or not that person receives compensation, including administrators, supervisors, and any licensed staff of a public or private facility that provides care or services for elder or dependent adults, or any elder or dependent adult care custodian, health practitioner, clergy member, or employee of a county adult protective services agency or a local law enforcement agency."
If multiple reporters are present, they can mutually decide that one of them is to report.
Is there a penalty for reporting in error?
A mandated reporter, who is acting in good faith, is protected from criminal or civil penalty for reporting suspected abuse if that does not turn out to be the case.
Is there a penalty for NOT reporting?
If a mandated reporter fails to report, this is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail or $1,000 fine, or both. If the unreported abuse results in death or severe disability, the punishments go to up to 1 year in jail or $5,000 fine, or both. Civil suits are also possible, and California malpractice carriers have noted a recent increase in lawsuits for failure to report elder/dependent adult abuse.
Nationwide, less than 2% of elder abuse reporting is initiated by MDs. MDs identify their largest barrier to reporting as
a lack of understanding of reporting mechanisms.
J Natl Med Assoc. 2006 Mar;98(3):403-4. PMID: 16573305
See next page "How to Report"
If you suspect or believe there is abuse, contact Social Services at
3-5091. The SW will:
- assess an unclear situation (in which case the SW will do the reporting as needed)
- assess safety
- counsel patient about abuse issues
- provide referral information
- organize placement if patient can't go home
- organize conservatorship with APS if MD/psych feel patient is not competent
- assist RNs, MAs, clinic staff and MDs if questions arise about their mandated oral and written reporting
- provide follow-up
CAN I REPORT ANONYMOUSLY
Mandated reporters must identify themselves on the written report, but that information can be kept confidential. Non-mandated persons (e.g. neighbors) can choose to remain anonymous.