Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 32.1. Health
Chapter 8. Postmortem Examinations and Services
8/19/2017

§ 32.1-283.5. Adult Fatality Review Team; duties; membership; confidentiality; penalties; report; etc.

A. There is hereby created the Adult Fatality Review Team, referred to in this section as "the Team," which shall develop and implement procedures to ensure that adult deaths occurring in the Commonwealth are analyzed in a systematic way. The Team shall review the death of any person age 60 years or older, or any adult age 18 years or older who is incapacitated, who resides in the Commonwealth, or who does not reside in the Commonwealth but who is temporarily in the Commonwealth and who is in need of temporary or emergency protective services (i) who was the subject of an adult protective services or law-enforcement investigation; (ii) whose death was due to abuse, neglect, or exploitation or acts suggesting abuse, neglect, or exploitation; or (iii) whose death came under the jurisdiction of or was investigated by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner pursuant to § 32.1-283. The Team shall not initiate an adult death review until the conclusion of any law-enforcement investigation or criminal prosecution. The operating procedures for the review of adult deaths shall be exempt from the Administrative Process Act (§ 2.2-4000 et seq.) pursuant to subdivision B 17 of § 2.2-4002.

B. The 16-member team shall consist of the following persons or their designees: the Chief Medical Examiner, the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, the Commissioner for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, the Director of the Office of Licensure and Certification of the Department of Health, and the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman. In addition, the Governor shall appoint one representative from each of the following entities: a licensed funeral services provider, the Medical Society of Virginia, and local departments of social services, emergency medical services, attorneys for the Commonwealth, law-enforcement agencies, nurses specializing in geriatric care, psychiatrists specializing in geriatric care, and long-term care providers. The Team further shall include two members appointed by the Governor who are advocates for elderly or disabled populations in Virginia. The Chief Medical Examiner shall serve as chair of the Team.

After the initial staggering of terms, members appointed by the Governor shall be appointed for a term of four years. Appointments to fill vacancies, other than by expiration of a term, shall be for the unexpired terms. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments. All members may be reappointed. The Chief Medical Examiner and other ex officio members of the Team shall serve terms coincident with their terms of office.

C. Upon the request of the chair of the Team, made after the conclusion of any law-enforcement investigation or prosecution, information and records regarding an adult whose death is being reviewed by the Team shall be inspected and copied by the chair or his designee, including but not limited to any report of the circumstances of the event maintained by any state or local law-enforcement agency or the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and information or records on the adult maintained by any facility that provided services to the adult, by any social services agency, or by any court. Information, records, or reports maintained by any attorney for the Commonwealth shall be made available for inspection and copying by the chair or his designee pursuant to procedures that shall be developed by the Chief Medical Examiner and the Commonwealth's Attorneys' Services Council established by § 2.2-2617. In addition, a health care provider shall provide the Team, upon request, with access to the health and mental health records of (i) the adult whose death is subject to review, without authorization; (ii) any adult relative of the deceased, with authorization; and (iii) any minor child of the deceased, with the authorization of the minor's parent or guardian. The chair of the Team also may copy and inspect the presentence report, prepared pursuant to § 19.2-299, of any person convicted of a crime that led to the death of the adult who is the subject of review by the Team.

D. All information obtained or generated by the Team regarding a review shall be confidential and excluded from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) pursuant to subdivision 7 of § 2.2-3705.5. Such information shall not be subject to subpoena or discovery or be admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding. If available from other sources, however, such information and records shall not be immune from subpoena, discovery, or introduction into evidence when obtained through such other sources solely because the information and records were presented to the Team during an adult death review. The Team shall compile all information collected during a review. The findings of the Team may be disclosed or published in statistical or other form, but shall not identify any individuals. The portions of meetings in which individual adult death cases are discussed by the Team shall be closed pursuant to subdivision A 21 of § 2.2-3711.

E. All Team members and other persons attending closed Team meetings, including any persons presenting information or records on specific fatalities, shall execute a sworn statement to honor the confidentiality of the information, records, discussions, and opinions disclosed during meetings at which the Team reviews a specific death. No Team member or other person who participates in a review shall be required to make any statement regarding the review or any information collected during the review. Upon conclusion of a review, all information and records concerning the victim and the family shall be shredded or otherwise destroyed in order to ensure confidentiality. Violations of this subsection are punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

F. Upon notification of an adult death, any state or local government agency or facility that provided services to the adult or maintained records on the adult or the adult's family shall retain the records for the longer of 12 months or until such time as the Team has completed its review of the case.

G. The Team shall compile an annual report by October 1 of each year that shall be made available to the Governor and the General Assembly. The annual report shall include any policy, regulatory, or budgetary recommendations developed by the Team. Any statistical compilations prepared by the Team shall be public record and shall not contain any personally identifying information.

2008, c. 539; 2009, cc. 813, 840; 2012, cc. 803, 835; 2014, c. 583; 2015, c. 108; 2017, c. 778.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.