Washington State has a Mandatory Reporters law, RCW 74.34.035, which requires professionals to report suspicions if they believe a vulnerable adult is a victim of abuse, abandonment, neglect or financial exploitation. Owners or employees of nursing homes, boarding homes or adult family homes are considered mandatory reporters.
If a Mandatory Reporter fails to report nursing home abuse or neglect, he or she may be guilty of criminal inaction. In addition, he/she may be found liable under civil law for damages resulting from the abuse or neglect.
Mandatory reporters include the following:
- Social workers
- Medical professions including physicians, dentists, psychologists, nurses, healthcare assistants, CNAs, RNS, recreational therapists, massage therapists
- County coroner and medical examiner
A vulnerable adult is defined as person who is 60 years of age or older and is unable to care for themselves due to functional, mental or physical disability. A vulnerable person is a person 18-59 who is determined by the state of Washington to be incapacitated because of a developmental disability, has been admitted to a nursing home or other care facility or a person who receives care from an individual who self-directs his or her own care in their own home.Permissive Reporters
If you are not considered by Washington Law a Mandatory Reporter, then you are a permissive reporter [RCW 74.34.035]. Washington State law encourages persons other than mandatory reporters to make a report when they have reason to believe that abuse, abandonment, neglect, or self-neglect, is, or has, occurred. Persons other than mandatory reporters are called “permissive reporters.”How to Report Suspected Abuse
You do not have to be a Mandatory Reporter to report suspected elder abuse. We all have a moral obligation to report abuse of vulnerable adults when they are unable to report for themselves. To report suspected abuse or neglect of a vulnerable or adult, the Washington State Department of Health Services has a toll-free hotline which can be called 24 hours a day. The number is 1-866-363-4276. If you believe the person is in immediate danger or has been the victim of violence or a rape, call the police.
Mandatory Reporters are also required to report a death to the Coroner or Medical Examiner if they suspect the death of a vulnerable adult was caused by neglect or abuse.When to Report to Law Enforcement
A Mandatory Reporter is not required to report suspected elder abuse to law enforcement except when the injury appears on the back, face, head, neck, chest breasts, groin, inner thigh, buttock genital or anal area OR if there is a broken bone or fracture OR if there is an attempt to choke a vulnerable adult OR there is a patter of physical assault between two vulnerable adults.Call a Nursing Home Abuse or Neglect Expert
If one of your loved ones has been seriously injured or died as a result of nursing home staff negligence or abuse, contact The Farber Law Group, a law firm that specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect.