Documentation and Reporting

Documentation of cases of known or suspected IPV should include the patient's report, the physician's assessment and examination, interventions, and follow-up plans. Photographic evidence, body maps, and a clear discussion of the relationships between abuse and medical problems may also be prudent (FVPF, 2004). These practices may serve as both medicolegal necessity and advocacy measure for patients who may take legal action against the perpetrator.

A physician should have a basic understanding of local reporting laws. Mandatory reporting of intimate partner violence varies from state to state and may depend on type of injury, if a weapon was used and which type, if rape occurred, or other criminal conduct occurred. Cases that involve child abuse must also be reported. When children have not been directly abused, state laws vary as to what is a reportable IPV offense. Physicians have discretion in these cases and may be required to do a careful assessment of imminent risk and

Box 45-4 Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Safety Planning

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