Thursday, November 18, 2004

Did you know it’s not “Elder Abuse”; it is . . . ?

Many mediators believe that Chapter 415, Florida Statutes, pertains to the mandatory reporting only of “Elder Abuse”. Actually, the correct terminology is abuse of “Vulnerable Adults”, a much broader concept, as reflected in F.S. 415.1034 Mandatory reporting of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable adults; mandatory reports of death, and defined as:

“Vulnerable adult” means a person 18 years of age or older whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his or her own care or protection is impaired due to a mental, emotional, long-term physical, or developmental disability or dysfunctioning, or brain damage, or the infirmities of aging. F.S. 415.102(26).

The new Mediation Confidentiality and Privilege Act in F.S. 44.405(4)(a)(3) provides there is no confidentiality or privilege for any mediation communication “that requires a mandatory report pursuant to chapter 39 or chapter 415 solely for the purpose of making the mandatory report to the entity requiring the report. . . .” [Emphasis added.]

Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, Rule 10.360(a) addresses the scope of confidentiality:

A mediator shall maintain confidentiality of all information revealed during mediation except where disclosure is required by law. [Emphasis added.]

A mandatory report is a “disclosure required by law”. The mandatory report is made to The Department of Children and Family Services’ Central Abuse Hotline, 1-800-96ABUSE.