An increased number of medical, legal and financial services professionals now are required to report suspicions of elder abuse, neglect or exploitation under changes to Ohio law that went into effect on Saturday.
Pharmacists, dialysis technicians, firefighters, first responders, building inspectors, certified public accountants, real estate agents, bank employees, financial planners and notary publics are among positions joining existing mandatory reporters, according to the state Department of Aging.
“Each of us must feel empowered to speak up when we suspect that a neighbor, friend or loved one might be the subject of abuse, neglect or exploitation,” Ohio Department of Aging Director Beverley Laubert said in a statement. “Likewise, we deserve to know that people who serve our elders daily will take action when they spot warning signs.”
Mandatory reporters who do not report possible abuse could face criminal charges and fines of up to $500. Ohio law makes no exceptions for professional relationships — for example, physician/patient relationships and attorney/client relationships.
“Older adults make up the fastest-growing segment of Ohio’s population, so all of us need to be vigilant,” said Cynthia Dungey, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, which supervises the state’s adult protective services program.
Under the changes to the law, ODJFS also is developing guidebooks for financial services professionals, legal and law enforcement professionals, medical professionals and the public. In the meantime, “A Guide to Protecting Ohio’s Elders” is available at www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/pubs/.