Reporting Abuse

Reporting Abuse  

Abuse Reporting

April 19, 2023

Abuse Reporting

While working in health care, you may come across people of all ages and genders with significant or minor injuries, and determining if that was caused by abuse can be tough. If you suspect that your patient was injured due to negligent or abusive care, then you have an obligation to act and report it to the appropriate authorities to help the patient.

Mandatory reporter

According to the National Association of Mandated Reporters, mandated reporters are "people required by law to report suspected or known instances of abuse," including "known or suspected abuse or neglect relating to children, elders, or dependent adults." Currently, there are 47 states that have designated professions wherein workers are mandated to report child maltreatment.1

Health care workers are in a unique position to protect the most vulnerable of our populations — children, the disabled and the elderly, but this can also include adults that fall victim to domestic abuse.

Types of abuse

The NAMR lists violence against children, elders, intimate partners and adults with disabilities as major forms of abuse that can be reported by health care professionals.2

  • Children — Nearly 1 in 8 children suffers from a form of mistreatment before the age of 18. Health care workers need to understand state and local laws on how to report findings of child abuse and how their local law agency will handle the report. If domestic violence is happening between two partners with a child present, that can be considered child abuse.3
  • Elder — Although elder abuse is historically underreported, knowing the signs and symptoms of elder abuse can save lives. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine4 showed that 10% of the population over 60 experienced some type of abuse or mistreatment. Elder abuse can be identified by poor physical health, functional impairment and residence in nursing homes. Not only are elders susceptible to abuse from nursing home staff but also from other residents.5
  • Intimate Partners — While more women experience abuse than men, both genders are affected. Almost 1 in 3 women will receive a form of abuse during their lifetime, while 17% of men are a victim as well. Injuries can be from firearms, assault, sexual battery and more. If you believe your patient is suffering from domestic abuse, report it to the proper authorities.6


Identify abuse and neglect in patients

Identifying abuse in your patients is an important part of your assessment as a health care worker. For elders, there’s an Elder Abuse Suspicion Index that asks a patient six questions that can help determine if they are experiencing abuse.

A few signs of child abuse may be lack of supervision by an adult; withdrawn or depressed behavior; unaddressed medical issues, cuts, bruises and burns; obvious parental indifference; or a statement by the child that they’re always alone. For intimate partners, most instances occur at home, and the victims are often at a significant risk for further injury if there is no intervention.

Document and report abuse

Health care workers must keep detailed notes of every patient they interact with, so including actual or suspected abuse is crucial to helping the patient. Leaving out feelings, judgements and opinions may be hard to do but is needed to help the case.

If you believe someone is in immediate or serious danger, call your local law enforcement agency to help. For children, call your local Child Protective Services (CPS) office or Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline.7 For adults, there’s Adult Protective Services that you can reached out to or the National Domestic Violence Hotline.


Back to Main page

Read the Reviews

We don't just want your business. We want to be your partner.
Hear from professionals just like you who choose Proliability for their professional liability insurance.