Mississippi Code Title 43. Public Welfare § 43-47-5. Definitions

For the purposes of this chapter, the following words shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Abuse” means the commission of a willful act, or the willful omission of the performance of a duty, which act or omission contributes, tends to contribute to, or results in the infliction of physical pain, injury or mental anguish on or to a vulnerable person, the unreasonable confinement of a vulnerable person, or the willful deprivation by a caretaker of services which are necessary to maintain the mental or physical health of a vulnerable person.  “Abuse” includes the sexual abuse delineated in Section 43-47-18 .  “Abuse” does not mean conduct that is a part of the treatment and care of, and in furtherance of the health and safety of, a patient or resident of a care facility, nor shall it mean a normal caregiving action or appropriate display of affection.  “Abuse” includes, but is not limited to, a single incident.

(b) “Care facility” means:

(i) Any institution or place for the aged or infirm as defined in, and required to be licensed under, the provisions of Section 43-11-1 et seq. ;

(ii) Any long-term care facility as defined in Section 43-7-55 ;

(iii) Any hospital as defined in, and required to be licensed under, the provisions of Section 41-9-1 et seq. ;

(iv) Any home health agency as defined in, and required to be licensed under, the provisions of Section 41-71-1 et seq. ;

(v) Any hospice as defined in, and required to be licensed under, the provisions of Chapter 85 of Title 41;  and

(vi) Any adult day services facility, which means a community-based group program for adults designed to meet the needs of adults with impairments through individual plans of care, which are structured, comprehensive, planned, nonresidential programs providing a variety of health, social and related support services in a protective setting, enabling participants to live in the community.  Exempted from this definition shall be any program licensed and certified by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and any adult day services program provided to ten (10) or fewer individuals by a licensed institution for the aged or infirm.

(c) “Caretaker” means an individual, corporation, partnership or other organization which has assumed the responsibility for the care of a vulnerable person, but shall not include the Division of Medicaid, a licensed hospital, or a licensed nursing home within the state.

(d) “Court” means the chancery court of the county in which the vulnerable person resides or is located.

(e) “Department” means the Department of Human Services.

(f) “Emergency” means a situation in which:

(i) A vulnerable person is in substantial danger of serious harm, death or irreparable harm if protective services are not provided immediately;

(ii) The vulnerable person is unable to consent to services;

(iii) No responsible, able or willing caretaker, if any, is available to consent to emergency services;  and

(iv) There is insufficient time to utilize the procedure provided in Section 43-47-13 .

(g) “Emergency services” means those services necessary to maintain a vulnerable person's vital functions and without which there is reasonable belief that the vulnerable person would suffer irreparable harm or death, and may include taking physical custody of the person.

(h) “Essential services” means those social work, medical, psychiatric or legal services necessary to safeguard a vulnerable person's rights and resources and to maintain the physical or mental well-being of the person.  These services shall include, but not be limited to, the provision of medical care for physical and mental health needs, assistance in personal hygiene, food, clothing, adequately heated and ventilated shelter, protection from health and safety hazards, protection from physical mistreatment and protection from exploitation.  The words “essential services” shall not include taking a vulnerable person into physical custody without his consent, except as provided for in Section 43-47-15 and as otherwise provided by the general laws of the state.

(i) “Exploitation” means the illegal or improper use of a vulnerable person or his resources for another's profit, advantage or unjust enrichment, with or without the consent of the vulnerable person, and may include actions taken pursuant to a power of attorney.  “Exploitation” includes, but is not limited to, a single incident.

(j) “Illegal use” means any action defined under Mississippi law as a criminal act.

(k) “Improper use” means any use without the consent of the vulnerable person, any use with the consent of the vulnerable person if the consent is obtained by undue means, or any use that deprives the vulnerable person of his ability to obtain essential services or a lifestyle to which the vulnerable person has become accustomed and could have otherwise afforded.

(l) “Lacks the capacity to consent” means that a vulnerable person, because of physical or mental incapacity, lacks sufficient understanding or capacity to make or communicate responsible decisions concerning his person, including, but not limited to, provisions for health care, food, clothing or shelter.  This may be reasonably determined by the department in emergency situations;  in all other instances, the court shall make the determination following the procedures in Sections 43-47-13 and 43-47-15 or as otherwise provided by the general laws of the state.

(m) “Neglect” means either the inability of a vulnerable person who is living alone to provide for himself the food, clothing, shelter, health care or other services which are necessary to maintain his mental or physical health, or failure of a caretaker to supply the vulnerable person with the food, clothing, shelter, health care, supervision or other services which a reasonably prudent person would do to maintain the vulnerable person's mental and physical health.  “Neglect” includes, but is not limited to, a single incident.

(n) “Protective services” means services provided by the state or other government or private organizations, agencies or individuals which are necessary to protect a vulnerable person from abuse, neglect or exploitation.  They shall include, but not be limited to, investigation, evaluation of the need for services and provision of essential services on behalf of a vulnerable person.

(o) “Sexual penetration” shall have the meaning ascribed in Section 97-3-97 .

(p) “Undue means” means the use of deceit, power, or persuasion over a vulnerable person resulting in the vulnerable person being influenced to act otherwise than by his own free will or without adequate attention to the consequences.

(q) “Vulnerable person” means a person, whether a minor or adult, whose ability to perform the normal activities of daily living or to provide for his or her own care or protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation or improper sexual contact is impaired due to a mental, emotional, physical or developmental disability or dysfunction, or brain damage or the infirmities of aging.  The term “vulnerable person” also includes all residents or patients, regardless of age, in a care facility.  The department shall not be prohibited from investigating, and shall have the authority and responsibility to fully investigate, in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, any allegation of abuse, neglect or exploitation regarding a patient in a care facility, if the alleged abuse, neglect or exploitation occurred at a private residence.


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