Ohio House Bill 493 Would Modernize and Clarify Medical Professionals’ Responsibilities

According to the sponsors of HB 493, Rep. Barbara Sears (R-Sylvania) and Rep. Scott Ryan (R-Newark), current child abuse and neglect law can sometimes create barriers to thorough examinations of children who may be abused or neglected. This bill proposes to modernize and clarify the law governing medical professionals’ responsibilities for conducting exams and reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. Specifically, the bill would: 

  • Update language to permit medical exams, tests and procedures that are within the standard of care in order to encourage thorough exams and permit current (and future) best standard of care practices.
  • Clarify that the standard of care medical examinations, tests and procedures are for purposes of diagnosis, treatment and safe discharge of a child whose injuries may result from abuse or neglect.
  • Clarify that anyone who participates in medical examinations, tests or procedures related to diagnosis or treatment of suspected child abuse or neglect in a patient, including siblings or other children who reside in the home, or who provides any information used in a child abuse or neglect report is immune from civil or criminal liability resulting from the report or related medical care.
  • Authorize medical examinations, tests and procedures for siblings and other children who live in the same home as a child who may have been abused or neglected.
  • Authorize a hospital, children’s advocacy center or other emergency medical facility to take steps reasonably necessary for the safe discharge of a child as part of the medical care it provides to a child who may have been abused or neglected.
  • Clarify that medical examinations, tests or procedures conducted for the purpose of diagnosing or treating a child who may have been abused or neglected, including medical examinations, tests or procedures of a child’s siblings and other children who reside in the home, are not law enforcement actions.
  • Recognize and permit the use of a “care team” to provide health care services to a child who has suffered abuse or neglect, and permit that team to designate one member to report suspected child abuse or neglect.
  • Permit results and reports from medical examinations, tests and procedures to be included in a child abuse or neglect report.

The proposed legislation provides immunity for medical professionals acting in accordance with the law; expressly permits current (and future) medical technology to be used in the diagnosis and treatment; streamlines and clarifies information sharing and reporting responsibilities in a modern treatment environment; and recognizes the importance of sibling examinations and safe discharge planning as part of a medical evaluation. This language is fully supported by the Ohio Children’s Hospital Association.

To view House Bill 493, click here.