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Patients' reports of domestic violence not recorded by a nearly a third of surveyed physicians

BioMed Central

Nearly a third of surveyed physicians do not keep a record when patients report domestic violence. Published today in the open access journal BMC Family Practice, a study of clinicians' reports on patients who experienced domestic violence also reveals that 90% of the clinicians surveyed do not document domestic violence adequately. Their reports do not record whether they offered support and information about domestic violence to patients who might have needed it.

Megan Gerber, from Harvard Medical School, and colleagues from other institutions in the USA, analysed the content of clinicians' reports on patients who had reported domestic violence in a questionnaire. The questionnaire was filled in prior to a consultation and the patient gave it to the clinician at the start of the consultation.

Nearly 5% (115/2341) of patients who completed a questionnaire reported having experienced domestic violence. The authors analysed the doctors' reports for 90 of them. Their results show that nearly one third (26/90) of the reports did not document the patient's report of domestic violence. Clinicians are asked to offer patients who report domestic violence some information about where to get help, and to assist them in developing a list of steps to take to get out of their situation. Only 10% of reports recorded that the clinician had provided the most complete level of documentation.

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The study found that a third of clinicians surveyed do not feel confident in counselling patients who report intimate partner violence.

Article :
How and why community hospital clinicians document a positive screen for intimate partner violence: a cross-sectional study.
Megan R. Gerber MD, MPH, Karen S. Leiter JD, MPH, Richard C. Hermann MD, MS and David H. Bor MD
BMC Family Practice 2005, 6:48 (21 November 2005)

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