The groups of people mandated to notify cases of suspected child abuse and neglect range from persons in a limited number of occupations (e.g., Qld), to a more extensive list (Vic., WA), to a very extensive list (ACT, NSW, SA, Tas.), through to every adult (NT; and Vic. The occupations most commonly named as mandated reporters are those who deal frequently with children in the course of their work: teachers, doctors, nurses and police.In addition to differences describing who is a mandated reporter across jurisdictions, there are differences in the types of abuse and neglect that must be reported.Some jurisdictions also require reports of exposure of children to domestic violence (e.g., NSW, Tas.).
Patients, of course, can always choose to report on their own as well. The report on suspected abuse must include the name of the patient, the patient's location, a description of the patient's injuries, and the name or identity of the abuser (if the identity is known). The report itself can go into more detail about the suspected abuse if the healthcare provider feels that further description will help.One question many healthcare providers have is whether they have to tell the patient about the report.State laws typically don't require that the healthcare provider tell the patient about the report, though it is encouraged, if possible.The patient-victim may be looked at as having 'betrayed' the abuser's trust, even though it was the healthcare provider who made the report and not the patient. Healthcare providers and others can and should attempt to guarantee the safety of the patient-victim.Contact security at the healthcare center or contact the local police if there's a real possibility that the patient won't be safe upon returning home.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. Just who is required to report varies state by state, but in California, healthcare providers are the professionals covered by the mandatory reporting law. 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.However, federal law requires that the healthcare provider tell the patient if a mandatory report is going to be sent out, so that the patient understands and can prepare for local law enforcement to engage with them.The exception to this federal rule is if telling the patient about the report puts the patient at risk, the healthcare provider doesn't need to tell the patient about the report. Sending in a report to local law enforcement authorities may cause new problems for the patient.So are all healthcare providers subject to the mandatory reporting requirement? 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.