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Mandatory Reporting Laws for Health Care Practitioners (From Child Abuse and Neglect: Guidelines for Identification, Assessment, and Case Management, P 253-256, 2003, Marilyn Strachan Peterson and Michael Durfee, eds. -- See NCJ-200932)

NCJ Number
Marilyn S. Peterson M.S.W
Date Published
4 pages
This chapter explains California's laws that require health-care practitioners to report any suspected child abuse and neglect.
The California laws that require health-care practitioners to report suspected child abuse and neglect define a "health care practitioner" as a physician and surgeon; psychiatrist; psychologist; dentist; resident; intern; optometrist; marriage, family, and child counselor, trainee, or unlicensed intern; licensed clinical social workers; emergency medical technician I and II; paramedic; coroner; State or county public health workers treating a minor for venereal disease; and religious practitioner who diagnoses, examines, or treats children. The laws specify four types of child maltreatment that may occur alone or in combination, i.e., physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional/psychological abuse, and child neglect. This chapter explains each of these types of child maltreatment. As a legally mandated reporter, a health practitioner must submit a report as soon as practically possible by phone to child protective services or a law enforcement agency when the practitioner has reasonable suspicion that child maltreatment has occurred. California's Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act provides that neither the physician-patient privilege nor the psychotherapist-patient privilege applies to any information reported pursuant to this law (Penal Code 11171). A health-care practitioner or any other mandated person who fails to make a required report is guilty of a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and/or up to a $1,000 fine, as well as possible civil damages. Although the mandated reporter must provide his/her name when reporting suspected child maltreatment, the name is kept confidential and may be disclosed only in specific, limited circumstances. The following information is required when reporting suspected child maltreatment: the child's name; the present location of the child; the nature and extent of the injury; and any other information that led the reporter to suspect child abuse, as requested by the child protective agency. A written report must be sent within 36 hours to either Children's Protective Services or a local law enforcement agency. This chapter provides a sample Suspected Child Abuse Report form. 1 resource