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17 June 2022 / Sara M. Costanzo

Elder Abuse Is a Quiet Crime: The Mandatory Reporting Process in Ohio

Topics: Elder Abuse


Ohio’s Adult Protective Services
statutes have long been on the books, however few people are aware they are mandatory reporters, and as such are mandated to report.
 
Abuse is defined as the infliction upon an adult by self or others of injury, unreasonable confinement, intimidation, or cruel punishment with resulting physical harm, pain, or mental anguish, when that abuse is done to an adult under Ohio law. Any person 60 years of age or older within this state who is handicapped by the infirmities of aging or who has a physical or mental impairment which prevents the person from providing for the person's own care or protection, and who resides in an independent living arrangement. Many of us are now required to report our suspicions of such abuse.
 
The suspicion of abuse includes exploitation, or the unlawful or improper act of a person using, in one or more transactions, an adult or an adult's resources for monetary or personal benefit, profit, or gain when the person obtained or exerted control over the adult or the adult's resources in any of the following ways:
  1. Without the adult's consent or the consent of the person authorized to give consent on the adult's behalf
  2. Beyond the scope of the express or implied consent of the adult or the person authorized to give consent on the adult's behalf
  3. By deception
  4. By threat
  5. By intimidation 
Ohio, much like other states, has a list of mandatory reporters, requiring  that the following persons having reasonable cause to believe that an adult is being abused, neglected, or exploited, or is in a condition which is the result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation must immediately report such belief to the county department of job and family services or face a fine up to $500.00. In addition to criminal penalties, any mandatory reporter who fails to carry out that duty may also face civil liability for damages sustained as a result of that breach.
 
The law does, however, protect a reporter, so long as the report is not made in bad faith or with malicious purpose, with immunity from civil or criminal liability. Reporters are also protected from discharge, demotion, transfer, any negative work performance evaluation, benefit/pay/work privilege reductions, and/or workplace retaliation by an employer.
 

The following people are considered mandatory reporters:

  • An individual who is an ambulance driver for an emergency medical service organization;
  • An attorney admitted to the practice of law in this state;
  • An employee of a bank, savings bank, savings and loan association, or credit union organized under the laws of Ohio, another state, or the United States;
  • An individual licensed in Ohio as a chiropractor;
  • A member of the clergy;
  • A coroner;
  • A dealer, investment adviser, salesperson, or investment advisor representative licensed under Ohio law;
  • An individual licensed in Ohio as a dentist;
  • An individual holding a certificate to practice as a dialysis technician issued under Ohio law;
  • A financial planner accredited by a national accreditation agency;
  • An individual who is a firefighter for a lawfully constituted fire department;
  • A first responder, emergency medical technician-basic, emergency medical technician-intermediate, or paramedic;
  • An employee of a home health agency;
  • An employee of a health department operated by the board of health of a city or general health district or the authority having the duties of a board of health Ohio law;
  • An employee of a hospital or public hospital;
  • An agent of a county humane society organized under Ohio law;
  • An employee of a community mental health agency;
  • An individual appointed and commissioned under Ohio law as a notary public;
  • An employee of a nursing home or residential care facility;
  • An official employed by a local building department to conduct inspections of houses and other residential buildings;
  • An employee of an outpatient health facility;
  • A peace officer;
  • An individual licensed in Ohio as a pharmacist;
  • An individual authorized in Ohio to practice medicine and surgery, osteopathic medicine and surgery, or podiatric medicine and surgery;
  • An individual licensed in Ohio as a psychologist;
  • An individual who holds a certificate issued under Ohio law as a certified public accountant or is registered in Ohio as a public accountant;
  • An individual licensed in Ohio as a real estate broker or real estate salesperson;
  • An individual licensed in Ohio as a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse;
  • Any other individual who is a senior service provider, other than a representative of the office of the state long-term care ombudsman program.
  • An individual licensed in Ohio as a social worker, independent social worker, professional counselor, professional clinical counselor, marriage and family therapist, or independent marriage and family therapist;
  • An employee of a residential facility that provides accommodations, supervision, and personal care services for three to sixteen unrelated adults;
If a report is required, note that the report required can be oral or in writing to the county department of job and family services, but if made orally, it must be followed up in writing. The reports must include the following details:
  1. The name, address, and approximate age of the adult who is the subject of the report;
  2. The name and address of the individual responsible for the adult's care, if any individual is, and if the individual is known;
  3. The nature and extent of the alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the adult; and
  4. The basis of the reporter's belief that the adult has been abused, neglected, or exploited.
These legislative changes come in the face of 1-2 million U.S. citizen elders suffering abuse annually. Only about 20% of those cases are ever reported. By 2050, 20% of all people will be 65 years of age or older. The population group growing the fastest included those who were older than 85 years of age. Sadly, abusers are often family members (spouses and children). This is often a quiet crime, with little data to use in creating a solution to the growing problem.
 
The Ohio Attorney General’s office maintains a team to assist with combating elder abuse. Formal abuse reports may also be reported to this office using 800.282.0515.
 
If you have additional questions about this topic, or are unsure if you are a mandatory reporter, please contact shareholder Sara Costanzo at any time.
 
This blog is not a solicitation for business and it is not intended to constitute legal advice on specific matters, create an attorney-client relationship or be legally binding in any way.

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