In general, private persons have no duty to report evidence of a crime against an elderly adult by their caretaker. There are strong moral reasons, of course, but that is not the same thing as a legal duty. However, there are certain situations in which persons do have a duty to report the abuse, neglect or exploitation of a disabled adult or caretaker.
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 108A is the Protection of the Abused, Neglected or Exploited Disabled Adult Act. Per section 108A-102, any person with reasonable cause to believe a disabled adult is in need of protective services must report that information to the facility director. Upon finding evidence of nursing home abuse, neglect or exploitation of a disabled adult or elderly person, the director must notify the district attorney. Physicians are the one profession bound by law under this statute. Other professions impose internal sanctions for failure to report. For example, the North Carolina Board of Nursing mandates nurses report other nurses for fraud, theft, sexual misconduct, inappropriate prescribing, criminal actions and more.
These professionals may face internal sanctions for failure to report. But what about civil liability? A failure to report abuse, neglect or exploitation of an elder adult resulting in injury or death to the patient may be grounds to impose civil liability. Take for example the recent case of Kim v. Lakeside Adult Family Home. This was a case out of Washington state, but nonetheless has parallels for us here in North Carolina. Continue reading