A. Upon the initiative of any local or regional law-enforcement agency, department of social services, emergency medical services agency, attorney for the Commonwealth’s office, community services board, or official with the Adult Protective Services Unit established pursuant to § 51.5-148, local or regional adult fatality review teams may be established for the purpose of conducting contemporaneous reviews of local adult deaths in order to develop interventions and strategies for prevention specific to the locality or region. For the purposes of this section, the team may 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 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 as occurring in any suspicious, unusual, or unnatural manner, pursuant to § 32.1-283. Each team shall establish rules and procedures to govern the review process. Agencies may share information but shall be bound by confidentiality and execute a sworn statement to honor the confidentiality of the information they share. A violation of this subsection is punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner shall develop a model protocol for the development and implementation of local or regional adult fatality review teams and such model protocol shall include relevant procedures for conducting reviews of adult fatalities.
B. Local and regional teams may be composed of the following persons from the localities represented on a particular board or their designees: a medical examiner appointed pursuant to § 32.1-282, a local adult protective services official, a local social services official, a director of the relevant local or district health department, an executive director of the local area agency on aging or other department representing the interests of the elderly or disabled, a chief law-enforcement officer, the attorney for the Commonwealth, an executive director of the local community services board or other local mental health agency, a local judge, and such additional persons as may be appointed to serve by the chair of the local or regional team. The chair shall be elected from among the designated membership. The additional members appointed by the chair may include, but are not restricted to, representatives of local human services agencies, local health care professionals specializing in geriatric care or care of incapacitated adults, local emergency medical services personnel, local long-term care providers, representatives of local advocacy or service organizations for elderly or disabled populations, experts in forensic medicine and pathology, local funeral services providers, local centers for independent living, local long-term care ombudsmen, and representatives of the local bar.
C. Each local or regional team shall establish operating procedures to govern the review process prior to conducting the first adult fatality review. The review of a death shall be delayed until any criminal investigations connected with the death are completed or the Commonwealth consents to the commencement of such review prior to the completion of the criminal investigation.
D. All information and records obtained or created regarding a review of a fatality shall be confidential and shall be excluded from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§ 2.2-3700 et seq.) pursuant to subdivision 9 of § 2.2-3705.5. All such information and records shall be used by the team only in the exercise of its proper purpose and function and shall not be disclosed. Such information and records shall not be subject to subpoena, subpoena duces tecum, discovery, or introduction into evidence when obtained through such other sources solely because the information and records were presented to the team during the fatality review. No person who participated in the review and no member of the team shall be required to make any statement as to what transpired during the review or what information was collected during the review. Upon the conclusion of the fatality review, all information and records concerning the victim and family shall be returned to the originating agency or destroyed. However, the findings of the team may be disclosed or published in statistical or other form that does not identify any individuals. The portions of meetings in which individual cases are discussed by the team shall be closed pursuant to subdivision A 21 of § 2.2-3711. All team members, persons attending closed team meetings, and persons presenting information and records on specific fatalities to the team during closed meetings shall execute a sworn statement to honor the confidentiality of the information, records, discussions, and opinions disclosed during any closed meeting to review a specific death. A violation of this subsection is punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.
E. Members of teams, as well as their agents and employees, shall be immune from civil liability for any act or omission made in connection with participation in an adult fatality review team review, unless such act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct. Any organization, institution, or person furnishing information, data, testimony, reports, or records to review teams as part of such review shall be immune from civil liability for any act or omission in furnishing such information, unless such act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
2015, c. 108.