Identifying family violence: the role of the orthopaedist
Identify: Familiarize yourself with the scope of the problem. Have a high index of suspicion.
Interview: Talk to the patient outside the presence of others, using a direct gentle inquiry. Ask the question "Did someone hurt you?" Few patients will disclose a history of family violence without direct inquiry.
Document findings: Carefully document the history, using the patients own words in quotes. Use a body map or photographs taken of injuries.
Evaluate for safety: At a minimum, ask victims/patients if they think it is safe to return home.
Refer/Report: If possible, refer to persons/agencies specifically trained in abuse counseling. Disclosure of the diagnosis of abuse in a competent adult to any third party should not be done without the patients knowledge and consent. Bottom line: Follow individual state statute. Check AAOS web site for reporting details per state (www.aaos.org).