Domestic Abuse

State Law

California State Screening Law (Business and Professions Code 2091.2, Health & Safety Code sections 1233.5 and 1259.5 ) specifies that:

  1. Doctors, nurses and mental health practitioners, who apply for California professional licenses, document training in detection and treatment of domestic violence.
  2. Licensed Clinics and Hospitals must have written policies and procedures to:
    1. use routine screening to identify domestic abuse victims
    2. document related injuries and illnesses in the medical record
    3. refer domestic violence victims to available crisis intervention services
    4. designate staff to implement policies
    5. (Hospitals) educate staff about identifying and caring for domestic violence victims

The Joint Commission Standards

In addition to state screening requirements, the Joint Commission specifies standards for screening and treatment of these patients, some of which are:

  1. Possible victims of abuse are identified using criteria developed by the hospital.
    1. Objective criteria should exist to identify victims of abuse and this should be used throughout an institution. Staff should be trained on these criteria.
    2. Staff should maintain lists of private and public community agencies that can provide help and make appropriate referrals.
  2. Possible abuse victims have special assessment needs.
    1. Policies and procedures should exist to define the hospital’s responsibility in collecting, retaining and safeguarding information and evidence.
    2. The following should be documented in the patient’s medical record: consents, chain of evidence, legally required notification and release of information to authorities, referrals made.
  3. Leaders ensure that the competence of all staff is assessed, maintained, demonstrated and improved continually.

[Adapted from: Guidelines for the Health Care of Intimate Partner Violence, California Medical Training Center, 2004]

 

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