One topic that is very important but rarely talked about is caregiver duty to report. Most states have reporting requirements for healthcare workers who observe or have knowledge of abuse, neglect or exploitation. Generally, physicians, hospital interns, a resident, dentists, psychologists, social workers, police officers, or other persons who have the responsibility for the care of an incapacitated or vulnerable adult, and who has a reasonable basis to believe that abuse, neglect or exploitation has occurred must make an immediate report to a police officer of protective services worker.
Further, criminal penalties do vary from state to state for failure to report abuse, neglect or exploitation. A caregiver who fails to report such crimes under circumstances likely to produce death or serious physical injury may be charged accordingly. Likewise, if a caregiver causes a vulnerable adult to suffer physical injury, or having care or custody of a vulnerable adult, causes or permits the person or health of the vulnerable adult to be injured or placed in a situation where the person or health of the vulnerable adult is endangered you may be found guilty of a felony. Having this in mind, it is very important for caregivers to be aware of the potential consequences to themselves, but more critically to protect their residents.
Finally, criminal intent for the aforementioned crimes can range from “intentionally”, “knowingly”, “recklessly”, or “criminal negligence.” To learn more about this topic please see your state’s criminal penalties as they do vary. As always caregiver, remember to take “care” of yourself.