By admin on March 20, 2014
Colorado became the 48th state to require many professionals to report abuse and exploitation of adults 70 years and older. Senate Bill 13-111, to be codified at C.R.S. § 18-6.5-108, becomes effective on July 1, 2014. Mandatory reporters are required to report elder abuse and exploitation to law enforcement within 24 hours. Failure to report can result in a Class 3 misdemeanor. Except for the perpetrator, anyone who makes a good-faith report is immune from liability for damages in any civil action or criminal prosecution.
Who are the mandatory reporters?
The following professionals, whether paid or unpaid, must report abuse and exploitation of adults 70 years and older (referred to as an at-risk elder):
- physicians, surgeons, physicians’ assistants, osteopaths, physicians in training, podiatrists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists;
- medical examiners and coroners;
- registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and nurse practitioners;
- emergency medical service providers;
- hospital and long-term care facility personnel engaged in the admission, care, or treatment of patients;
- psychologists and other mental health professionals;
- social work practitioners;
- clergy members, unless the information was learned during a privileged communication;
- law enforcement officials and personnel;
- court-appointed guardians and conservators;
- fire protection personnel;
- community-centered board staff;
- personnel of banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, and other lending or financial institutions;
- a caretaker, staff member, employee of, or a consultant for a licensed or certified care facility, agency, home, or governing board, including but not limited to home health providers; and
- a caretaker, staff member, employee of, or a consultant for a home care placement agency.
When must a report be made?
Mandatory reporters are required to report to law enforcement within 24 hours when the reporter (1) has observed the abuse or exploitation of an adult 70 years or older or (2) has reasonable cause to believe that an adult 70 years or older has been abused or exploited or is at imminent risk of abuse or exploitation.
What should be in a report?
To the extent possible, the following information should be contained in the report:
- name, age, address, and contact information of the at-risk elder;
- name, age, address, and contact information of the reporter;
- name, age, address, and contact information of the at-risk elder’s caretaker, if any;
- name of the alleged perpetrator;
- nature and extent of the at-risk elder’s injury, whether physical or financial, if any;
- nature and extent of the condition that required the report; and
- any other pertinent information.
What is abuse?
The law defines abuse as any of the following acts or omissions:
- the non-accidental infliction of bodily injury, serious, bodily injury or death;
- confinement or restraint that is unreasonable under generally accepted caretaking standards;
- unlawful sexual conduct or contact; and
- caretaker neglect.
What is caretaker neglect?
Caretaker neglect is neglect that occurs when adequate food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, medical care, or supervision is not provided by a caretaker in a timely manner and with the degree of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would exercise. However, caretaker neglect does not include withholding, withdrawing, or refusing any medication, medical procedure or device, or treatment in accordance with a valid medical directive or order or as described in a palliative plan of care.
What is exploitation?
Exploitation is an act or omission committed by a person who (1) uses deception, harassment, intimidation, or undue influence to permanently deprive an at-risk elder of the use, benefit, or possession of his or her money, assets or property; (2) without legal authority, employs the services of a third party for the profit or advantage of the person or another person to the detriment of the at-risk elder or forces, compels, coerces, or entices an at-risk elder to perform services for the profit or advantage of the person or another person against the will of the at-risk elder; or (3) misuses the property of an at-risk elder in a manner that adversely affects the at-risk elder’s ability to receive health care, health care benefits, or to pay a bill for basic needs or obligations.
Does a mandatory reporter have to make a report if another person already has done so?
A mandatory reporter is not required to report the abuse or exploitation of an at-risk elder if the person knows that another person has already reported the same abuse or exploitation to a law enforcement agency that would have been the basis of the person’s own report.
The Colorado Department of Human Services has posted a list of frequently asked questions that can assist in education and compliance efforts.