2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 19 - DOMESTIC RELATIONS
CHAPTER 15 - CHILD ABUSE
§ 19-15-3 - County multiagency child fatality review committee; chairperson; eligible deaths for review; notification to coroner; reporting to chairperson; committee review

O.C.G.A. 19-15-3 (2010)
19-15-3. County multiagency child fatality review committee; chairperson; eligible deaths for review; notification to coroner; reporting to chairperson; committee review


(a)(1) Each county shall establish a local multidisciplinary, multiagency child fatality review committee as provided in this Code section. The chief superior court judge of the circuit in which the county is located shall establish a child fatality review committee composed of, but not limited to, the following members:

(A) The county medical examiner or coroner;

(B) The district attorney or his or her designee;

(C) A county department of family and children services representative;

(D) A local law enforcement representative;

(E) The sheriff or county police chief or his or her designee;

(F) A juvenile court representative;

(G) A county board of health representative; and

(H) A county mental health representative.

(2) The district attorney or his or her designee shall serve as the chairperson to preside over all meetings.

(b) Review committee members shall recommend whether to establish a review committee for that county alone or establish a review committee with and for the counties within that judicial circuit.

(c) The chief superior court judge shall appoint persons to fill any vacancies on the review committee should the membership fail to do so.

(d) If any designated agency fails to carry out its duties relating to participation on the local review committee, the chief superior court judge of the circuit or any superior court judge who is a member of the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel shall issue an order requiring the participation of such agency. Failure to comply with such order shall be cause for punishment as for contempt of court.

(e) Deaths eligible for review by local review committees are all deaths of children ages birth through 17 as a result of:

(1) Sudden Infant Death Syndrome;

(2) Any unexpected or unexplained conditions;

(3) Unintentional injuries;

(4) Intentional injuries;

(5) Sudden death when the child is in apparent good health;

(6) Any manner that is suspicious or unusual;

(7) Medical conditions when unattended by a physician. For the purpose of this paragraph, no person shall be deemed to have died unattended when the death occurred while the person was a patient of a hospice licensed under Article 9 of Chapter 7 of Title 31; or

(8) Serving as an inmate of a state hospital or a state, county, or city penal institution.

(f) It shall be the duty of any law enforcement officer, medical personnel, or other person having knowledge of the death of a child to immediately notify the coroner or medical examiner of the county wherein the body is found or death occurs.

(g) If the death of a child occurs outside the child's county of residence, it shall be the duty of the medical examiner or coroner in the county where the child died to notify the medical examiner or coroner in the county of the child's residence.

(h) When a county medical examiner or coroner receives a report regarding the death of any child he or she shall within 48 hours of the death notify the chairperson of the child fatality review committee of the county or circuit in which such child resided at the time of death.

(i) The coroner or county medical examiner shall review the findings regarding the cause and manner of death for each child death report received and respond as follows:

(1) If the death does not meet the criteria for review pursuant to subsection (e) of this Code section, the coroner or county medical examiner shall sign the form designated by the panel stating that the death does not meet the criteria for review. He or she shall forward the form and findings, within seven days of the child's death, to the chairperson of the child fatality review committee in the county or circuit of the child's residence; or

(2) If the death meets the criteria for review pursuant to subsection (e) of this Code section, the coroner or county medical examiner shall complete and sign the form designated by the panel stating the death meets the criteria for review. He or she shall forward the form and findings, within seven days of the child's death, to the chairperson of the child fatality review committee in the county or circuit of the child's residence.

(j) When the chairperson of a local child fatality review committee receives a report from the coroner or medical examiner regarding the death of a child, that chairperson shall review the report and findings regarding the cause and manner of the child's death and respond as follows:

(1) If the report indicates the child's death does not meet the criteria for review and the chairperson agrees with this decision, the chairperson shall sign the form designated by the panel stating that the death does not meet the criteria for review. He or she shall forward the form and findings to the panel within seven days of receipt;

(2) If the report indicates the child's death does not meet the criteria for review and the chairperson disagrees with this decision, the chairperson shall follow the procedures for deaths to be reviewed pursuant to subsection (k) of this Code section;

(3) If the report indicates the child's death meets the criteria for review and the chairperson disagrees with this decision, the chairperson shall sign the form designated by the panel stating that the death does not meet the criteria for review. The chairperson shall also attach an explanation for this decision; or

(4) If the report indicates the child's death meets the criteria for review and the chairperson agrees with this decision, the chairperson shall follow the procedures for deaths to be reviewed pursuant to subsection (k) of this Code section.

(k) When a child's death meets the criteria for review, the chairperson shall convene the review committee within 30 days after receipt of the report for a meeting to review and investigate the cause and circumstances of the death. Review committee members shall provide information as specified below, except where otherwise protected by statute:

(1) The providers of medical care and the medical examiner or coroner shall provide pertinent health and medical information regarding a child whose death is being reviewed by the local review committee;

(2) State, county, or local government agencies shall provide all of the following data on forms designated by the panel for reporting child fatalities:

(A) Birth information for children who died at less than one year of age including confidential information collected for medical and health use;

(B) Death information for children who have not reached their eighteenth birthday;

(C) Law enforcement investigative data, medical examiner or coroner investigative data, and parole and probation information and records;

(D) Medical care, including dental, mental, and prenatal health care; and

(E) Pertinent information from any social services agency that provided services to the child or family; and

(3) The review committee may obtain from any superior court judge of the county or circuit for which the review committee was created a subpoena to compel the production of documents or attendance of witnesses when that judge has made a finding that such documents or witnesses are necessary for the review committee's review. However, this Code section shall not modify or impair the privileged communications as provided by law except as otherwise provided in Code Section 19-7-5.

(l) The review committee shall complete its review and prepare a report of the child's death within 20 days, weekends and holidays excluded, following the first meeting held after receipt of the county medical examiner or coroner's report. The review committee's report shall:

(1) State the circumstances leading up to death and cause of death;

(2) Detail any agency involvement prior to death, including the beginning and ending dates and kinds of services delivered, the reasons for initial agency activity, and the reasons for any termination of agency activities;

(3) State whether any agency services had been delivered to the family or child prior to the circumstances leading to the child's death;

(4) State whether court intervention had ever been sought;

(5) State whether there have been any acts or reports of violence between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household;

(6) Conclude whether services or agency activities delivered prior to death were appropriate and whether the child's death could have been prevented;

(7) Make recommendations for possible prevention of future deaths of similar incidents for children who are at risk for such deaths; and

(8) Include other findings as requested by the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel.

(m) The review committee shall transmit a copy of its report within 15 days of completion to the panel.

(n) The review committee shall transmit a copy of its report within 15 days following its completion to the district attorney of the county or circuit for which the review committee was created if the report concluded that the child named therein died as a result of:

(1) Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when no autopsy was performed to confirm the diagnosis;

(2) Accidental death when it appears that the death could have been prevented through intervention or supervision;

(3) Any sexually transmitted disease;

(4) Medical causes which could have been prevented through intervention by an agency or by seeking medical treatment;

(5) Suicide of a child in custody or known to the Department of Human Services or when the finding of suicide is suspicious;

(6) Suspected or confirmed child abuse;

(7) Trauma to the head or body; or

(8) Homicide.

(o) Each local review committee shall issue an annual report no later than the first day of July in 2001 and in each year thereafter. The report shall:

(1) Specify the numbers of reports received by that review committee from a county medical examiner or coroner pursuant to subsection (h) of this Code section for the preceding calendar year;

(2) Specify the number of reports of child fatality reviews prepared by the review committee during such period;

(3) Be published at least once annually in the legal organ of the county or counties for which the review committee was established with the expense of such publication paid each by such county; and

(4) Be transmitted, no later than the fifteenth day of July in 2001 and in each year thereafter, to the Georgia Child Fatality Review Panel.

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