(1) In order to protect the rights of the individual or other persons responsible for the welfare of a vulnerable adult, all records concerning reports of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of the vulnerable adult, including reports made to the central abuse hotline, and all records generated as a result of such reports shall be confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and may not be disclosed except as specifically authorized by ss. 415.101-415.113.
(2) Upon the request of the committee chairperson, access to all records shall be granted to staff of the legislative committees with jurisdiction over issues and services related to vulnerable adults, or over the department. All confidentiality provisions that apply to the Department of Children and Family Services continue to apply to the records made available to legislative staff under this subsection.
(3) Access to all records, excluding the name of the reporter which shall be released only as provided in subsection (6), shall be granted only to the following persons, officials, and agencies:
(a) Employees or agents of the department, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Agency for Health Care Administration, or the Department of Elderly Affairs who are responsible for carrying out protective investigations, ongoing protective services, or licensure or approval of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day care centers, adult family-care homes, home care for the elderly, hospices, residential facilities licensed under chapter 393, or other facilities used for the placement of vulnerable adults.
(b) A criminal justice agency investigating a report of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
(c) The state attorney of the judicial circuit in which the vulnerable adult resides or in which the alleged abuse, neglect, or exploitation occurred.
(d) Any victim, the victim’s guardian, caregiver, or legal counsel, and any person who the department has determined might be abusing, neglecting, or exploiting the victim.
(e) A court, by subpoena, upon its finding that access to such records may be necessary for the determination of an issue before the court; however, such access must be limited to inspection in camera, unless the court determines that public disclosure of the information contained in such records is necessary for the resolution of an issue then pending before it.
(f) A grand jury, by subpoena, upon its determination that access to such records is necessary in the conduct of its official business.
(g) Any appropriate official of the Florida advocacy council or long-term care ombudsman council investigating a report of known or suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult.
(h) Any appropriate official of the department, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, the Agency for Health Care Administration, or the Department of Elderly Affairs who is responsible for:
1. Administration or supervision of the programs for the prevention, investigation, or treatment of abuse, neglect, or exploitation of vulnerable adults when carrying out an official function; or
2. Taking appropriate administrative action concerning an employee alleged to have perpetrated abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult in an institution.
(i) Any person engaged in bona fide research or auditing. However, information identifying the subjects of the report must not be made available to the researcher.
(j) Employees or agents of an agency of another state that has jurisdiction comparable to the jurisdiction described in paragraph (a).
(k) The Public Employees Relations Commission for the sole purpose of obtaining evidence for appeals filed pursuant to s. 447.207. Records may be released only after deletion of all information that specifically identifies persons other than the employee.
(l) Any person in the event of the death of a vulnerable adult determined to be a result of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Information identifying the person reporting abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall not be released. Any information otherwise made confidential or exempt by law shall not be released pursuant to this paragraph.
(4) The Department of Health, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, and the Agency for Health Care Administration may have access to a report, excluding the name of the reporter, when considering disciplinary action against a licensee or certified nursing assistant pursuant to allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
(5) The department may release to any professional person such information as is necessary for the diagnosis and treatment of, and service delivery to, a vulnerable adult or the person perpetrating the abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
(6) The identity of any person reporting abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult may not be released, without that person’s written consent, to any person other than employees of the department responsible for protective services, the central abuse hotline, or the appropriate state attorney or law enforcement agency. This subsection grants protection only for the person who reported the abuse, neglect, or exploitation and protects only the fact that the person is the reporter. This subsection does not prohibit the subpoena of a person reporting the abuse, neglect, or exploitation when deemed necessary by the state attorney or the department to protect a vulnerable adult who is the subject of a report, if the fact that the person made the report is not disclosed.
(7) For the purposes of this section, the term “access” means a visual inspection or copy of the hard-copy record maintained in the district.
(8) Information in the central abuse hotline may not be used for employment screening.
History.—ss. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, ch. 73-176; s. 1, ch. 77-174; ss. 3, 5, ch. 79-287; s. 15, ch. 79-298; s. 1, ch. 80-293; s. 1, ch. 83-82; s. 33, ch. 86-220; s. 32, ch. 87-238; s. 7, ch. 88-219; s. 18, ch. 88-337; s. 4, ch. 89-170; s. 30, ch. 89-294; s. 4, ch. 90-50; s. 7, ch. 90-208; s. 47, ch. 90-306; s. 4, ch. 91-57; s. 15, ch. 91-71; ss. 43, 47, ch. 92-58; s. 31, ch. 93-39; s. 15, ch. 93-214; s. 57, ch. 94-218; s. 38, ch. 95-210; s. 106, ch. 95-418; s. 267, ch. 96-406; s. 1, ch. 98-111; s. 9, ch. 98-182; s. 2, ch. 98-255; s. 41, ch. 98-280; s. 70, ch. 2000-153; s. 25, ch. 2000-263; s. 38, ch. 2000-349; s. 3, ch. 2006-131; s. 60, ch. 2006-227.