LAWS REGARDING REPORTING ELDER NEGLECT AND ABUSE
People who have elderly family members whose care needs necessitate they move to long-term care facilities know the wide array of concerns they face when selecting a nursing home or other care team. Once a person has been moved, relatives may still worry about the health, safety and general well-being of their loved ones as there have been too many known cases in which a vulnerable, elderly person has been abused or neglected by the very person or persons who were supposed to protect and care for them.
In Virginia, there are laws in place that require some people to make reports about any suspected or witnessed instances of such elder abuse or neglect. As explained by the Virginia Department of Health Professions, reports of the neglect or abuse of an elderly adult should be made to the Virginia Department of Social Services or to a municipal department of social services. Any person who holds a license as a health care professional is bound by this obligation. One caveat, however, is important to note here.
If a person who inspects medical facility observes or witnesses any actions believed to be abusive or negligent while in the course of conducting a federal survey, they are not required to report the event or actions as other licensed medical professionals would be.
Facilities must also make reports detailing incidents of neglect or abuse of an elder resident or patient. These reports must be provided within 24 hours of the occurrence. In addition to detailing the actions involved in any elements of the alleged abuse or neglect, the report must identify what – if any – steps were taken in response or to prevent future events.