It has taken nearly two years, but Assembly Bill 40 has finally gone into effect. Drafted by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis AB 40 resolves a previous conflict between state and federal laws in which elder abuse in nursing homes was reported to the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman. However, abuse was prevented from being reported to local law enforcement due to federal rules of confidentiality. Despite the fact that the federal rules were in place to protect nursing home residents from retaliation by management, the ensuing results proved to suppress the reporting of elder abuse.
Fortunately, AB 40 went into effect in 2013, serving to close this loophole. AB 40 requires that any “mandated reporter” -including employees, supervisors or administrators of nursing homes and long-term care centers- now notify not only the Ombudsman, but local law enforcement officials as well. Specifically, reports of actual or suspected physical abuse which result in serious bodily harm must be reported to both agencies within 2 hours. Actual or suspected physical abuse resulting in minor injuries must be reported within 24 hours. The law aims to encourage nursing homes and workers to act quickly on complaints.
In a sense, AB 40 will serve to double the reporting duties of those required by state law to share any knowledge of physical abuse, abandonment, neglect, isolation or financial abuse of senior residents in long-term care centers. In fact, failure to report abuse is a misdemeanor under the new law, with a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
Elder abuse in California is both a criminal and civil offense. Criminal elder abuse describes the willful infliction of physical or emotional suffering on an elder. Civil elder abuse includes any physical or financial abuse, neglect or abandonment resulting in physical or mental harm.
If you suspect that a friend, family member, or loved one has been the victim of elder abuse, contact an experienced California elder abuse lawyer to help evaluate your case and advise you how to proceed. Christopher Walton has years of experience providing caring, compassionate representation to victims of elder abuse and their families. Call (866) 338-7079 for a confidential consultation.