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.
Closes a Loophole
Limited to Adult Survivors
Restores Professional Discretion
Under the New Law
Starting August 9th, medical licensees will not have to report all injuries resulting from domestic violence to law enforcement. Violence Free Colorado will be adding resources, recorded trainings, and other guides to help all professionals better understand the new law. Here are some quick facts.
Contact Violence Free Colorado’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 the efforts to provide the confidential notification to patient. Under HIPAA 45 CFR 164.512(f)(3), licensees may only report to law enforcement what they observed unless they have permission from the patient to give more information. See guidance from Health and Human Services here.
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
HIPAA 45 CFR 164.512(f)(3) allows for disclosure of personal health information to law enforcement with the patient’s permission and directs Licensees to follow state statutory reporting requirements when a disclosure is to be made without the patient’s permission. Colorado’s HB17-1322 provides the framework for reporting domestic violence against a patient’s wishes.
The Forensic Compliance Evaluation Project gives specific detailed guidance for medical professionals on reporting options for Survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Additional guidance regarding HIPAA can be found in appendix 3 of the guide (prior link), as well as from the department of Health and Human Services here.
For additional guidance please see your facilities internal practice documents, or contact Violence Free Colorado for free technical assistance.
After 9 August 2017, under HB17-1322, nurses can continue to act as designees of the medical licensee and follow the reporting guidelines under the new law.
Outside of operating as a direct designee, nursing professionals receive guidance from HIPAA 45 CFR 164.512(f)(3), which prohibits releasing personal health information to law enforcement over the wishes of the patient in most circumstances, and limits the scope of the information to be shared. For more information on reporting options for Survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Colorado see the Forensic Compliance Evaluation Project here. For specific information regarding HIPAA please read appendix three of the above link or find guidance directly from the Department of Health and Human Services here.
For additional guidance please see your facility’s internal practice documents, or contact Violence Free Colorado for free technical assistance.
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.”
The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.