HB 17-1322 Becomes Law on 8.9.17
Concerning An Exception To The Requirement That Certain Medical Professionals Report to Law Enforcement Concerning Injuries Resulting From Domestic Violence: This new law allows medical professionals to work with their patients to access medical care and additional resources regardless of an adult patients’ choice to participate within the criminal justice system.
Under the New Law
Starting August 9th, medical licensees will not have to report all injuries resulting from domestic violence to law enforcement. CCADV will be adding resources, recorded trainings, and other guides to help all professionals better understand the new law. Here are some quick facts.
Contact CCADV’s Lydia Waligorski with questions.
If the patient does not wish for the licensee to contact law enforcement, the licensee is to document the patient’s wishes in the medical file.
If the licensee wants to report to law enforcement over the wishes of the patient, they must confidentially notify the patient of their intent to report prior to calling law enforcement and document both the patient’s wishes and the confidential notification given to patient.
Either choice the licensee makes (to report to law enforcement or not), requires they must provide patient a referral to a community based DV organization. Immediate access to a confidential advocate is the goal.
A best practice is to encourage the patient to directly call a confidential local community-based program hotline from the office with the support of the medical licensee. The National DV Hotline (which has access to over 200 languages) may also be called if needed.
The referral can provide for immediate access to services, opportunities for safety planning, access to safe shelter, legal advocacy, etc., with many community based confidential domestic violence programs capable of providing same day in-person access for survivors at their facility or other safe place.
Victims need time to create a plan for their safety, which may include finding housing, protecting children from abuse or abduction, speaking to an advocate or attorney, and creating a plan for financial self-sufficiency. Community based advocates can confidentiality assist survivors with all of these needs, free of charge.
What you observed
What you heard from the patient, specifically their request to NOT call law enforcement
Confidential Advocate Referral
If you ARE calling law enforcement:
What you observed- ONLY
Documentation that you CONFIDENTIALLY informed the victim you have made the decision to call law enforcement
Confidential Advocate Referral
Nurses reporting obligations are not specifically addressed in Colorado statute, so their guidance would continue to either “filter down” from the medical licensees guidance or come from the federal HIPAA requirements 45 CFR 164.512(c).
The Forensic Compliance Evaluation Project gives specific detailed guidance to nurses and medical professionals and can be found at the link below. This document has specific information on all things reporting and there is an entire section (appendix 3) on HIPAA including a formal AG opinion on HIPAA and DV reporting.
What Does Medical Licensee Report?
|Always Report||At Licensee’s Discretion||At Patient’s Discretion|
|Serious Bodily Injury||X|
|Vulnerable Adult Abuse||X|
|Injuries resulting from crime other than
DV or sexual assault
Why the Bill?
“I was punched in the mouth, fell, hurt my knee, ankle, and chipped my tooth. I knew I needed medical services right away but was in fear of medical professionals contacting the police…I had no where to go with my daughter, I had no money, no car and the only job I was allowed to have was one taking care of his mother who had Alzheimer’s. I knew if this was reported I would have to fear for my life. I was told over and over if I ever reported my abuse and he went to jail he would get out and kill me and anyone who was with me.”
“This is about saving lives. Nearly three women are killed every day due to domestic violence. Based on the discussions with survivors and advocates we have had, the current policy on the books actually puts survivors of domestic violence in danger. Through this bill, these survivors can have the time to create their plan for safety, whether it is finding housing or protecting children, while still seeking medical care for their injuries. This way, the decision is in their hands, and they still have access to help.”
“The bill’s passage is crucial for the safety of those we serve. We need this bill so that our clients feel safe to obtain the medical care they need without fear of law enforcement being called in. We serve so many women who openly admit to not getting medical attention due to not wanting the involvement of law enforcement. This is just wrong. It should be up to each individual as to whether they choose to involve police and pursue prosecution.”