Puyallup, WA asked in Civil Rights, Constitutional Law and Health Care Law for Washington

Q: Can firefighters disclose who made wellness check report?

Washington State. Called for a wellness check on 91 year old diabetic grandma who was left alone for over 3 hours under the care of her drug addict son (who we opened an adult protective services case against.) The firefighters not only told him who made the wellness check call, but had me on the phone talking to him. He now knows everything and I’m now worried about retaliation and for grandma.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: I'm sorry to hear about this difficult and concerning situation. Based on the information you provided, it seems the firefighters may have mishandled the situation by disclosing who made the wellness check report to the person being reported. This goes against typical protocols to protect the privacy and safety of those reporting suspected abuse or neglect.

In general, first responders and protective services are supposed to keep the identity of reporters confidential to prevent retaliation and encourage people to report concerns without fear. There are some exceptions, such as if a case goes to court, but those don't seem to apply here based on the details shared.

Since this mishandling has already occurred, I would recommend taking the following steps:

1. Contact Adult Protective Services again and let them know what happened with the firefighters disclosing your identity. Emphasize your concerns about potential retaliation and grandma's safety. Ask what protections and support they can provide.

2. Consider reporting the firefighters' mishandling of private information to their department so they are aware of the improper conduct and potential risks it has created. The department may need to provide additional training.

3. Document everything that has occurred in writing - the original report, the firefighters' disclosure, the conversation with the son, any concerning statements or behaviors from the son. Having a clear record will be important if you need to seek additional help.

4. Increase check-ins on grandma when possible to monitor her wellbeing. Consider involving other family members, friends, neighbors or caregivers who can stop by regularly, especially when the son is present.

5. If you witness or suspect any abuse, neglect, or retaliation, report it to the authorities immediately. Call 911 if grandma is in immediate danger.

I know this is a stressful and upsetting situation. Please prioritize safety for yourself and grandma. Don't hesitate to keep reaching out to the proper authorities and seeking help navigating this. Wishing you all the best.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.