New Law Doubles Requirement of Elder Abuse Reporting

Effective January 1, caretakers of seniors living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to report suspected abuse to both the care center’s ombudsman and a law enforcement agency.  AB40 doubles mandated reporter duties to share knowledge or suspicion of physical abuse, abandonment, neglect, isolation or financial abuse of residents in long-term care facilities.

AB40 requires observers to contact law enforcement by phone and in writing within two hours after learning of or suspecting physical abuse of a resident resulting in serious injury, or within 24 hours of a non-injury incident.  Mandated reporters – employees, supervisors or administrators at a facility – can face up to six months in jail and or a $1,000 fine if they fail to do so.

“What seems like a small change in the law will make a big difference in investigating and enforcing elder abuse laws in California,” said Jim Livingston, Adult Protective Services (APS) Program Manager for the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency. Ombudsmen operate under strict confidentiality guidelines and need permission from the victim to share information with the police, and victims often are reluctant or unable to agree. “Now reports will go directly to law enforcement who can investigate the allegations and, if substantiated, send them to the District Attorney for prosecution.”

On average, Shasta County APS receives more than 100 reports of elder or dependent care abuse every month, and more than one-third are confirmed to be true. “That’s a staggering statistic considering how underreported elder abuse is” said Livingston. Experts estimate that only one in six of all cases of abuse are reported, which means that very few victims get the help they need. For more information on elder abuse and how you can help, visit shastahhsa.net. To report suspected elder or dependent adult abuse, call Adult Protective Services at 225-5798.

-from press release

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-from press release
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5 Responses

  1. Avatar Rich says:

    What would be a more significant is changing California's Welfare and Institutions Code section 15657.3 subdivision (d)(2) to apply during the elder's or dependent adult's lifetime. California Court routinely determine that family and other interested persons do not have legal standing to litigate to stop elder abuse during the victim's lifetime. The Courts will tell family that their litigation to protect their abused parent or other family member is premature. Explaining that the family can only watch, document, and refile after the death of their love one.

    The Courts logic is that abuse is a personal injury claim and only the victim or the victim's legal representative can litigate to protect the victim during the victim's lifetime. The Courts apply this logic even when the victim is incapacitated and when the victim's legal representative is the abuser. One example is Stevens v. Stevens Court of Appeals of California, Second Appellate District, Division Two B211352 October 14, 2009.

    Doubling the reporting requirement will do nothing to protect the victim when the abuser is the legal representative of the abused because law enforcement will continue to state that non-physical abuse is a civil matter and the Courts will continue to state family members do not have legal standing to provide civil protection until after death of the victim. Yes, the "Golden State" provides more protection against abuse to our deceased residents than those still living that would actually benefit from the protection. California lawmakers should either 1) change the 15657.3(d)(2) to apply during the victim's lifetime OR 2) change the name to Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Retaliation Act to accurately reflect that the Courts do not allow for Civil Protection just Retaliation.

    • Avatar Robert says:

      Actually, it will. The work is not really doubled though, since the report is already required, the reporter simply faxes it to local law enforcement AND Ombudsman, where before it was faxed to one or the other.

      The important element in the bill is that law enforcement get the reports at all…which they often don't under the old rules, due to the Ombudsman's strict privacy protocol that forbids them from sharing information with ANYONE without written consent of the subject of the report–in long-term care facilities, as many as 70% of the residents are unable to give such consent due to dementia, or other incapacitating conditions.

  2. Elder Abuse, Financial Elder Abuse are serious crimes and just because the victim has died that doesn't mean the suspects should not be brought to justice. I believe that these cases should be handled just like murder investigations. Whereas, when someone has been murdered the police I N V E S T I G A T E using forensic science in order to bring those responsible to justice.

    http://benamarine.blogspot.com/2011/08/stage-iii-

  3. What good are mandated reporting laws if California law enforcement agencies and prosecutors are unwilling to enforce the laws?

    We have proof on file that a complainant provided Mark Zahner, the chief prosecutor for the California attorney general's Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse (BMFEA) with video and other overwhelming evidence that a Los Angeles-area nursing home committed abandonment, elder neglect/abuse leading to death, patient records falsification, and other crimes, including failure to report the elder abuse to law enforcement or the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

    But Mark Zahner and his BMFEA office in Sacamento, California refused to file any charges against the perpetrators who failed to report the elder abuse. Mr. Zahner and BMFEA failed, even though BMFEA Special Agent Timothy J. Fives noted in his investigation report that the nursing home staff had not reported the elder neglect to law enforcement as required.

    Why did Mark Zahner protect the perpetrators? Why does Attorney General Kamala Harris' BMFEA fail to enforce the law against elder abusers when the abusers are rich, politically connected nursing home owners? What good are mandated reporting laws that are not enforced by BMFEA?

    Elder Abuse Exposed(dot)com

  4. Avatar Nursing Home Worker says:

    I work in the long-term care industry. I, as well as my associates, take any suspected abuse very seriously. What is exponentially more common that caregiver-to-patient abuse (and abuse allegations) is patient-to-patient abuse. The regulations now require facilities to make a report of ANY potential abuse to law enforcement. What that means is that we call the police everytime a patient (which more often than not is cognitively impaired to some degree) has any sort of altercation with another patient. Most common examples are: two patient's wheelchairs get caught on eachother and one patient swats at the other patient's hand as they try to untangle them, the TV is too loud and so the patient throws their cup of water at them, one patient gets frustrated at their roommate so they throw a pencil at the roommate. Now, don't get me wrong, I am NOT blaming these patients. As I said, they are most often caused by those with cognitive impairments which explains their behavior. I am also not saying, "get over it…you're at a nursing home." But what I am saying is that our police forces (whose budgets are being continually reduced) need to focus on legitimate crime. Making a report then requires an officer to come to the facility and "investigate" the incident. I don't claim to know what the solution is, but filing a police report over to dementia patients splashing water on each other is not it.