HB 4880 was just passed out of committee unanimously. This bill was voted on and passed in the House in November 2021. The next step is a full Senate vote which may happen this month.
From Gongwer News Service Inc. after APTA Michigan testimony last week:
Mandatory reporting requirements could be expanded to include physical therapists and physical therapist assistants under legislation, supporters of which say it could provide them protections when reporting child abuse and neglect.
Mr. Hauck’s legislative director, Alex Porrett, told the panel that new additions within the bill are in fields like other mandatory reporters, such as medical professionals and licensed counselors. This is because of their relationship with patients and the training many of them receive to identify signs of abuse.
Occupational therapists and athletic trainers would also be included as mandatory reporters under the bill.
Dr. Abigail Skallerud, director of legislative affairs for the American Physical Therapy Association – Michigan Chapter, said her organization has been championing for this initiative for years. She echoed Mr. Porrett’s statement by that physical therapists and physical therapist assistants have been trained to recognize child abuse.
“For years, PTs and PTAs have been reporting cases of suspected child abuse and neglect over the years as we have been permitted under the Child Protection Law, even though we’re not required to dos so,” Ms. Skallerud said. “This bill remedies that loophole and increases the accountability of a physical therapist and the physical therapist assistant on behalf of children in our state. And it also adds added legal protections for us as PTs and PTAs if we do suspect the child abuse and neglect occurring.”
She also said the Child Protection Law provides civil and criminal immunity for those who make a report in good faith.
Committee Chair Sen. Curt VanderWall (R-Ludington) asked if someone does come into the office showings signs of abuse, how do physical therapists and physical therapist assistants handle the situation. Ms. Skallerud said depending on the workplace, they will either report to law enforcement or to social workers the suspected abuse and follow whatever guidance they are given from that point on.
He then questioned if that takes responsibility off physical therapists and their assistance, asking Ms. Skallerud why she saw “the benefit of being able to work” under the bill.
“If we do (report) right now, we’re protected under the Good Samaritan laws, but we are not protected underneath the actual mandatory reporting laws,” she said. “So for us if we are wrong, we don’t get the same protection as other health care professionals currently.”