State laws and regulations that affect your medical practice
I. GUNSHOT WOUNDS
1. Should gunshot wounds be reported to the proper authorities?
Yes. The law mandates that each hospital, outpatient surgical facility and outpatient clinic shall report or cause a report to be made to the local police department or the state police of each person treated for a bullet wound, gunshot wound or any injury arising from the discharge of a firearm. Such report shall be made as soon as practicable after the treatment is rendered and shall contain the name and address of the injured person, if known, the nature and extent of the injury and the circumstances under which the treatment was rendered.
II. IMPAIRMENT, GROSS INCOMPETENCE OR UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT OF ANOTHER PRACTITIONER
1. Should a practitioner report another's impairment, gross incompetence or unprofessional conduct to the Connecticut Medical Examining Board?
Yes. Practitioners shall notify the Connecticut Medical Examining Board of any incidence which reasonably indicates that another practitioner has demonstrated an impairment, gross incompetence or unprofessional conduct which would present an imminent danger to patients or to the public health, welfare and safety.
Practitioners who notify the Board will not be held liable to any person for reporting, unless the practitioner knowingly provided false information to the Board.
C.G.S.A. § 19a-20
III. CHRONIC HEALTH OR VISION PROBLEMS
1. Does a physician have a duty to report names of persons with chronic health or vision problems to the Department of Motor Vehicles?
Yes. Any physician may report to the Department of Motor Vehicles, in writing, the name, age and address of any person diagnosed by him to have any chronic health problem which in the physician's judgment will significantly affect the person's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, or to have recurrent periods of unconsciousness uncontrolled by medical treatment. Any optometrist may report to the department, in writing, the name, age and address of any person known by him to have a vision problem which in the optometrist's judgment will significantly affect the person's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Such reports shall be for the information of the commissioner in enforcing state motor vehicle laws, and shall be kept confidential and used solely for the purpose of determining the eligibility of any person to operate a motor vehicle on the highways of this state.
C.G.S.A. § 14-46
IV. SUSPECTED CASES OF ABUSE OR NEGLECT
1. Does a physician have a duty to report instances of child abuse or neglect?
Yes. A physician is a "mandated reporter" under Connecticut statutes and must make a report when, in the ordinary course of their profession, they have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child under the age of eighteen years has been abused or neglected; has had non-accidental physical injury, or injury which is at variance with the history given of such injury, inflicted upon such child; or is placed at imminent risk of harm.
What Must be Reported:
The following child abuse or neglect situations must be reported to the Department:
Child Abuse: Any child or youth who has a non-accidental physical injury, or injury which is at variance with the history given of such injury, or who is in a condition which is the result of maltreatment such as, but not limited to, malnutrition, sexual molestation, deprivation of necessities, emotional maltreatment or cruel punishment.
Child Neglect: Any child or youth who has been abandoned or is being denied proper care and attention, physically, educationally, emotionally or morally or is being permitted to live under conditions, circumstances or associations injurious to his/her well-being or has been abused.
Child Under Thirteen with Venereal Disease: A physician or facility must report to Hotline upon the consultation, examination or treatment for venereal disease of any child not more than twelve years old.
The reporting requirements are as follows:
An oral report shall be made by a mandated reporter by telephone or in person to the DCF (Department of Children and Families) Hotline or to a law enforcement agency as soon as practicable, but not later than twelve hours after having reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a child has been abused or neglected or placed in imminent risk of serious harm.
Within forty-eight hours of making an oral report, a mandated reporter shall submit a written report to the DCF Hotline.
When the report concerns an employee of a facility or institution that provides care for a child and which is licensed by the state, the mandated reporter also shall send a copy of the written report to the executive head of the state licensing agency.
If the mandated reporter is a member of the staff of a public or private institution or facility that provides care for the child or public or private school, the reporter shall also submit a copy of the report to the person in charge of the institution, facility or school or the person's designee.
If a law enforcement agency receives an oral report, it shall immediately notify the DCF Hotline.
DCF shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency within twelve hours of receipt of a report alleging sexual abuse or serious physical abuse including, but not limited to, a report that a child has died; has been sexually assaulted; has suffered brain damage or loss or serious impairment of a bodily function or organ; has been sexually exploited; or has suffered serious non-accidental physical injury.
Reporter Liability and Protections:
Any person, institution or agency which, in good faith, makes or does not make a report shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability provided such person did not perpetrate or cause such abuse or neglect.
No employer shall discharge or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against any employee who in good faith makes a report, as above, testifies or is about to testify in any proceeding involving child abuse or neglect.
Penalty for Not Reporting:
Any person required to report who fails to make such report shall be fined not less than $500.00 nor more than $2500.00 and shall be required to participate in an educational and training program.
Penalty for Making a False Claim:
Any person who knowingly makes a false report of child abuse or neglect shall be fined not more than $2,000.00 or imprisoned not more than one year or both.
The name of such person shall be disclosed to the appropriate law enforcement agency and to the perpetrator of the alleged abuse.
C.G.S.A. § 17-101 et seq.; Department of Children and Families Policy Manual
2. Does a physician have a duty to report abuse or neglect of elderly persons?
Yes. Physicians are included in the persons required by law to report instances of abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment of an elderly person within five calendar days to the Commissioner of Social Services or to the Commissioner's designee.
This report shall include the name and address of the elderly persons, description of the abuse, neglect, exploitation or abandonment being reported, as well as any other information which the person making the report believes may be helpful in the investigation of the case or the protection of the victim.
CT ADC § 17b-461-2
V. DUTY TO WARN
1. Does a physician have a duty to warn if he or she suspects a patient to have violent tendencies?
A. A duty to warn and protect is incurred when the following conditions exist:
When the patient has communicated to the physician a threat of imminent serious physical violence against a readily identifiable individual or against himself and the circumstances are such that a reasonable professional in the physician's area of expertise would believe the patient intended to carry out the threat.
B. If the circumstance warrants, the duty to warn may be discharged by these suggested methods:
1. Arranging for voluntary or involuntary commitment of the patient;
2. Advising local law enforcement of the patient's condition; and
3. If the patient is under 18, a warning to the parent or guardian of the threat of harm to others or the threat of suicide will suffice.
C.G.S.A. § 52-146f
Copyright Kern Augustine Conroy and Schoppmann, P.C. Used with permission.