Domestic Violence Reporting Law
In all but three states, there are mandatory reporting requirements for domestic violence and related injuries. While the law varies somewhat from state-to-state, the core is generally the same. So what does mandatory reporting really mean?
California provides a relatively simple, clear example. In California, the mandatory reporting law requires that healthcare providers send in a report to local law enforcement if they know or reasonably suspect that their patient has been injured as a result of abuse - listed injuries include firearm injury, incest, battery, stabbing, rape, spousal abuse, torture, etc. The healthcare provider is then required to call up local law enforcement and tell them about the suspected abuse as soon as possible or send in a written report within 48 hours. If the healthcare provider fails to meet these requirements for mandatory reporting of domestic violence, he or she may be found guilty of a misdemeanor crime.
Who Has to Make a Report?
Just who is required to report varies state by state, but in California, healthcare providers are the professionals covered by the mandatory reporting law. This can be confusing for some. Patients may not know whether a counselor or social worker is a healthcare provider. For example, a physician-psychiatrist may only meet with one of his patients for psychological counseling, and not to give medical advice.
So are all healthcare providers subject to the mandatory reporting requirement? In some states, no, and in other states, yes. If you are a healthcare provider or work with healthcare providers, be aware of your state's particular mandatory reporting laws.
In Pennsylvania, for example, mandatory reporting requirements apply to both healthcare providers and managers of a healthcare facility, but there are well-defined exceptions to mandatory reporting. In Pennsylvania, a healthcare provider/manager doesn't have to report suspected domestic violence if the victim is an adult, and if the victim has been informed about mandatory reporting, doesn't consent, and afterwards, is referred to a victim's services agency.