Mandated Reporting Laws for Elder Abuse

Mandated elder abuse reporting laws require individuals to report cases where an older American may have been abused or neglected. These laws typically affect nursing home staff members, medical professionals, and other caretakers. All states have mandated elder abuse reporting laws. Reporting can help to save lives, especially when a senior is in a dangerous situation.

What Are Mandated Elder Abuse Reporting Laws?

Mandated reporting laws for elder abuse require certain people, such as nursing home staff members and doctors, to contact authorities If they think an older person has suffered from abuse. These individuals are known as “mandated reporters” under these laws.

The laws are crucial to protecting older Americans who may not be able to report elder abuse or neglect on their own. Elders who are at risk of abuse often require the care of another person. Older adults, along with their families, place their trust in caretakers. When this trust is violated through harm or exploitation, it needs to be reported.

Mandated reporting laws for elder abuse save lives. When a suspected case of elder abuse is reported, law enforcement and state agencies are obligated to investigate and keep older Americans from suffering more harm.

Which States Have Mandated Reporting Laws for Elder Abuse?

According to a 2016 report by Stetson Law University, all states have some form of mandated elder abuse reporting law.

However, each state law has variations regarding:

  • Which mandated reporters are legally required to report the abuse
  • What circumstances require a mandated reporter to act
  • What action can be taken if the victim has the capacity to act on their own
  • How reports are filed pending on where victim lives (nursing home/at their own home)

As noted by the American Bar Association (ABA), each state also has:

  • Its own definition of what is considered elder abuse
  • Different laws used to prosecute those who commit abuse

Finally, it’s important to note that laws surrounding elder abuse change over time.

Who Are Considered Mandated Reporters of Elder Abuse?

Most states classify anyone who provides medical or social services to a senior as a mandated reporter of elder abuse.

Depending on the laws in any given state, this may include:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Home health care providers
  • Nursing home staff members

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 8 states also require any person who suspects elder abuse to report it under these laws.

When elder abuse occurs in nursing homes, medical professionals working in the facilities are usually required by law to report abuse that they observed.

Who Must Elder Abuse Be Reported To?

Again, this depends on the laws in any given state, but mandated reporters must often contact the state’s Adult Protection Services (APS) or a similar agency.

State APS agencies are tasked with protecting vulnerable adults from abuse, neglect, or other forms of exploitation. These agencies may work in tandem with traditional law enforcement, but the two have different functions.

Once elder abuse has been reported to the proper authorities, it may also be a good idea for a family to contact an attorney and discuss their legal options. Attorneys can help families file civil lawsuits and pursue financial compensation to pay for medical bills and other expenses that stem from elder abuse.

Reporting Elder Abuse Saves Lives

If you suspect elder abuse, don’t wait. Make sure that you report the suspected elder abuse immediately so officials can take the appropriate actions. If elder abuse is not reported, it can lead to severe mental and physical injuries and even death.

Reporting elder abuse gives the APS and law enforcement an opportunity to investigate the suspected abuse. It also allows attorneys to take the first step in helping victims after they have suffered. And, it can lead to victims getting the financial compensation that they need to fully recover.

Our site has a resource page that provides phone numbers where you can report elder abuse and neglect in every state. In the event of a life-threatening emergency, always call 911.

Families can also get a free case review to learn about their legal options after reporting nursing home abuse to the right authorities in their state.

Author:Nursing Home Abuse Justice Team
Nursing Home Abuse Justice Team

Nursing Home Abuse Justice was founded to shine a light on nursing home and elder abuse. Every day, thousands of people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are abused. Our team helps educate seniors and their loved ones on the common causes, signs and preventions of nursing home abuse. We report on real-world studies and current events from respected news outlets to expose this national problem.

Last modified: January 20, 2021

View 4 References
  1. American Bar Association. (2020, November 17). Elder Abuse. Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.americanbar.org/groups/law_aging/resources/elder_abuse/

  2. American Bar Association (ABA). (2020, April). Types of Abuse Defined in Adult Protective Services Statutes (April 2020). Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/law_aging/2020-abuse-definitions.pdf

  3. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. (2017, December 07). How do I report elder abuse or abuse of an older person or senior? Retrieved January 19, 2021, from http://www.hhs.gov/answers/programs-for-families-and-children/how-do-i-report-elder-abuse/index.html

  4. Stetson Law University. (2016). Mandatory reporting statutes for elder abuse – 2016. Retrieved January 20, 2021, from https://www.stetson.edu/law/academics/elder/home/media/Mandatory-reporting-Statutes-for-elder-abuse-2016.pdf