Kevin McKinnisOhio recently passed a law that requires a wide range of professionals who interact with impaired seniors to immediately report suspected cases of neglect, abuse or exploitation. Those professionals include health care workers, attorneys and CPAs.

The law identifies seniors, 60 years or older, who are handicapped due to aging or have physical or mental impairments that prevent self-care and protection.

The law also seeks to identify people who take advantage of aging seniors and expressly forbids deception, threats and intimidation. Plus, it classifies exploitation as someone who benefits from an elderly person’s resources for monetary or personal gain. According to Cuyahoga County, there are more than 3,500 cases of elder abuse in the county each year.

Professionals who suspect any form of abuse must immediately file a report in person or online with the county department of jobs and family services. They will be asked to include the victim’s name, address, approximate age, the person responsible for the senior’s care, extent of abuse and reasons for the report.

Reports remain confidential, regardless of the type of professional who speaks out. They are also excluded from public records requests. The law grants civil and criminal immunity to those who report, and employers are prohibited from retaliating against whistleblowers.

Professionals who have a duty to report:

Attorney and accountants
Real estate brokers
Doctors, dentists, nurses and chiropractors
Hospital and outpatient facility employees
Psychologists, social workers and therapists
Pharmacists, dialysis technicians
Health agency employees
County humane society agents
Nursing home and residential care employees
Firefighters, ambulance drivers, first responders and EMTs
Building department employees
Police officers and police employees
Coroner employees
Members of clergy
Notaries and bank employees
Investment and financial planners

More information on reporting abuse in Cuyahoga County can be found here.

Kevin McKinnis is an attorney at Walter | Haverfield who focuses his practice on federal, state and local tax planning and controversies as well as mergers and acquisitions, estate planning, and probate and trust administration. He can be reached at 216-928-2965 or at kmckinnis@walterhav.com.