Writing A Mandatory Report

A report should either be made or confirmed in writing. Here are some key elements for writing a report:

  • Provide a summary of the concern. Be clear about the concern. Do not make the reader guess, particularly if the matter is technical or clinical.
  • Provide details. This will assist the recipient to respond appropriately. It may also reduce your subsequent involvement in answering obvious questions. It is usually acceptable to attach pertinent documents.
  • Include a list of witnesses the authority may wish to contact. Remember, for reports of sexual abuse under the RHPA, the identity of the client cannot be included unless he or she consents in writing.
  • Include any response or explanation from the subject of the report. Fairness would suggest that it be mentioned in the report. This demonstrates good faith. In addition, including the response helps everyone understand the complete situation. You are not taking sides by making a report, but providing important information to an authority.
  • Outline any action that has been taken to date on the allegation. It is important for the authority to know, for example, that the person has been placed on workplace suspension. 

Mandatory Report of Sexual Abuse 

When dealing with revelations of sexual abuse of clients, it is important for dietitians to manage them sensitively and not cause further harm. In addition, dietitians need to be aware of their legal obligations. According to law: •A report of sexual abuse under the Regulated Health Professions Act must be made if a dietitian has reasonable grounds, obtained in the course of practising dietetics, to believe that a regulated health professional has sexually abused a patient. 

  • A report of sexual abuse under the Regulated Health Professions Act cannot include the identity of the client unless the client gives written consent to including his or her name. 
  • A report of sexual abuse under the Regulated Health Professions Act must be made within 30 days unless there are reasonable grounds to believe that additional abuse may occur, in which case the report must be made immediately. 

Mandatory Report of Child Abuse 

Any person who has a reasonable suspicion that a child is in need of protection needs to report that suspicion to the local Children's Aid Society. While everyone has this duty, it is an offence for a dietitian not to make a report when the information is obtained in the course of practising dietetics. 

For a report under the Child and Family Services Act, only reasonable grounds to "suspect", not "believe", is needed. This means that the degree of information suggesting that a child is in need of protection can be quite low. As the definition of a child in need of protection, under the Child and Family Services Act , is quite lengthy and complex, when faced with potential child abuse where the health or safety of a child is threatened, dietitians are urged to get advice on reporting. You may get advice either from the Practice Advisor at the College, legal counsel or your organization's risk manager. 

Many of the mandatory reporting criteria refer to "reasonable grounds to believe". That phrase has two components: i.Reasonable grounds refer to objective information, not personal belief. If the facts are present, a report must be made even though you might not believe the facts to be true. A dietitian does not have to make a detailed evaluation of whether the person providing the information is credible - - so long as there is some objective basis for making the report. 

"Reasonable grounds" describe the type of information needed to make a report. Mere rumour or gossip does not constitute reasonable grounds; for example, a nurse saying over coffee that everyone knows that a certain doctor in the hospital sleeps with his patients. However, hard evidence or clear proof is not needed either. Information from someone who did not personally observe the event is fine, so long as it contains some specifics.