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A mandated reporter is an individual who has regular contact with vulnerable people and are therefore legally required to ensure a report is made when abuse is observed or suspected.

In the state of North Dakota, the mandated report situations are vulnerable adult and child abuse. The state requires certain healthcare professionals who provide healthcare or service to a vulnerable adult to report abuse, neglect and exploitation of vulnerable adults.

Who can report ; Mental health professional, hospital personnel, nursing home personnel, nurse, podiatrist, social worker, physical therapist, coroner, addiction counselor, emergency medical personnel, caregiver, medical examiner, family therapist, law enforcement officer, congregate care personnel, counselor, chiropractor, dental hygienist, firefighter, any other person may report to the North Dakota Department of Human Services or to law enforcement .

When to report; A mandated reporter must report in an official or professional capacity, he/she;

  • Has knowledge that a vulnerable adult has been subjected to abuse or neglect
  • Observes a vulnerable adult being subjected to conditions or circumstances that reasonably would result in abuse or neglect.

What to include in the report;

  • Name, age and address of alleged vulnerable adult.
  • Name and address of the care giver if any.
  • Nature and extent of alleged abuse or neglect or the condition and circumstances that would reasonable be expected to result in abuse or neglect.
  • Any evidence of previous abuse or neglect.
  • Any other information in the reporter’s opinion that may be important in establishing the cause of the alleged abuse or neglect and identity of person responsible.

How to report;

The mandated reporter must report suspected or observed abuse as soon as possible. If the reporter has reason to believe the vulnerable adult is in immediate danger, he/she should call law enforcement first before making a report to the aging services division.

Reports can be made through;

  • an online reporting system
  • completion and submission of a reporting form
  • through a telephone call (calls are answered weekdays between 8am to 5pm CST, after work calls need the reporter to leave a message and contact number).

Penalty for not reporting; Any person required to report and willingly decides not to do so is guilty and may be fined up to $1000.

Scenario

An elderly lady is brought to the ER by her daughter with history of fall sustaining injury to her right hip. She is unkempt, has dirty clothes on and obvious body odor. She is examined in the ER and after diagnostics, it is discovered she has a right hip joint fracture and low hemoglobin level. During the assessment, the daughter keeps interrupting when the elderly lady tries to answer questions. The explanation she gives of how the fall happened does not seem to be consistent with the injury. When offered a meal, the elderly lady eats it up real first, like she is really starving. The daughter does not leave opportunity for nurses/ doctors to be with her mother alone. Further examination reveals strange marks on her inner thighs, abdomen and inner arms. The elderly lady’s injuries, behavior, appearance and her daughter’s behavior seem to be consistent with suspected elder abuse.

Action; according to the facility policy, first step is to treat the immediate danger, which in this case is the injuries and low hemoglobin. The director of nursing and social service designee is informed of this situation (if it’s at night, the nurse who witnesses this can report). The DON/social services designee then follow the ND process of reporting vulnerable adult abuse.

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