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New York state laws and regulations that affect your medical practice


1. Does a physician have an obligation to report cases of suspected child abuse?

Yes. In New York, physicians, registered physician assistants, surgeons, osteopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, residents, interns, psychologists and registered nurses, among other professionals, with reasonable cause to believe that a child has been abused must report it to the New York State Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment or the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (Child Protective Services.) The report shall contain the names and addresses of the child and his or her parents, guardian, or any other person having custody and control of the child. Also, the report should contain the child's age, sex and race; the nature and extent of the child's injuries, abuse or maltreatment, including any evidence of prior injuries, abuse or maltreatment; the name of the person allegedly responsible for the injury; the family composition; the source of the report; the person(s) making the report and where he or she can be reached; and the reporting source’s actions.

(N.Y. Social Services Law § 413 and 415)

2. What is the consequence of failing to report suspected cases of child abuse?

Anyone who fails to report acts of child abuse may be charged with a class A misdemeanor, which is a crime punishable by a fine and potentially, a jail term. Failure could also result in charges of unprofessional conduct, subjecting a physician to potential disciplinary action.

(N.Y. Social Services Law § 420)



1. What are a physician's obligations regarding suspected cases of elder abuse among his/her patients?

A physician, medical examiner, coroner, physician's associate, specialist's assistant, osteopath, chiropractor, physical therapist, occupational therapist, registered professional nurse, licensed practical nurse, dentist, podiatrist, optometrist, pharmacist, psychologist, licensed master social worker, licensed clinical social worker, speech pathologist, audiologist and other professionals are required to make a report when they have reasonable cause to believe that a person receiving care or services in a residential health care facility has been physically abused, mistreated or neglected by someone who is not receiving care or services from that facility.

(N.Y. Public Health Law § 2803-d)

Copyright © Kern Augustine Conroy and Schoppmann, P.C. Used with permission.

Updated 2008