Mandatory reporting is a legal requirement, in state statute or regulation, for nurses to report an occurrence or individual, including another nurse, when the public is at risk. Mandatory reporting is enacted when the interest of public protection requires state-enforced regulation. This article offers guidance to help nurses better understand their roles and responsibilities in mandatory reporting. What Is Mandatory to Report? In addition to reporting of nurses by other nurses, states seek to protect at-risk individuals by requiring health professionals to divulge suspicions about behaviors such as abuse and neglect.
There is a wide range of interpretation from state to state as to how vulnerable situations are identified, which states mandate reporting, and who is required to report. All states require reporting of child abuse, for example, but only a few states require reporting of domestic violence against a man or woman who is not classified as a child or elder. Mandatory Reporting Law in Your State The details regarding mandatory reporting of nurses can be found through the licensing board for nurses in your state.
A link to all boards of nursing can be accessed through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). A note: some nurses are licensed under a “health commission,” “department of health,” or other type of umbrella agency, which is also listed on the NCSBN Website. Links and phone numbers for reporting child abuse can be found through the Child Welfare Information Gateway sponsored by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Their state-by-state list is updated regularly.
State-specific details for reporting elder abuse are available at the U. S. Administration on Aging’s National Center on Elder Abuse Website. Child abuse. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) was passed in 1974. This federal law defines the parameters under which state law must provide regulations mandating child abuse reporting by professionals. Some states, such as New York, have responded by mandating coursework in detecting and reporting child abuse for all health professionals as part of licensing requirements.
According to CAPTA, child abuse/neglect is defined as follows: Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm. To comply with federal law, all states have some form of regulation that requires health professionals to report child abuse/neglect to the appropriate agency. Elder abuse.
Elder abuse is an umbrella term that encompasses physical, sexual, emotional, or financial abuse of an elderly, frail individual. All states have reporting laws for health professionals who encounter elder abuse, neglect, or self-neglect, but reporting is not mandated by every state. Colorado law, for example “strongly urges” and suggests that a report “should be made” but does not mandate such a report. Even when reporting is mandated, health professionals infrequently report abuse of an elder.
Physicians often fail to report abuse because of concerns about conflict and loss of trust in the patient-provider relationship. Physicians have also voiced concerns about malpractice and personal liability if a report of abuse turns out to be ungrounded. Domestic violence. State law varies widely regarding the duty of health professionals to report domestic or interpersonal violence. Two states, Kentucky and California, mandate that health care professionals report domestic violence injuries to police, whether or not the patient consents to the report.
This has generated many studies exploring the impact of mandated reporting on survivors of physical or domestic abuse. In one study, survivors overwhelmingly asserted that “reporting should not be mandatory until a number of changes are made in the system to promote victims’ safety. ” Other Types of Mandatory Reporting by Health Professionals In addition to the above examples, state law may require nurses to report injuries resulting from a weapon, high blood alcohol levels, impaired driving, communicable disease, and threats to harm self or others.
There is also a trend toward requiring healthcare professionals to report errors. The federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 establishes a framework in which healthcare providers report medical errors to a certified patient safety organization, which analyzes the aggregate data and proposes measures to eliminate medical errors. Some states have enacted requirements that organizations report serious adverse events, such as wrong-site surgeries and medication errors resulting in death or disability.
If an organization is required to report such events, then individuals who practice at the organization will no doubt be required to report these incidents as well. Although a comprehensive discussion of all mandatory reporting law is beyond the scope of this article, it is recommended that nurses place more emphasis on reporting obligations in their initial or continuing education. Administrators, educators, and regulators should also become more informed about mandatory reporting by nurses. [pic]