Increasing Physician Impact on the Prevention of Domestic Violence

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Abstract of Journal Article -- January 2002  

By Joe E. Thornton, MD; Carolyn Nance Garner; Evelyn Swenson-Britt, RN, MS, CS; and Margaret H. Brackley, PhD, RN, MS  

Physicians in their professional organizations have recognized the tremendous toll of domestic violence on the safety and health of their patients. Effective integration of screening and referral into routine practice has encountered many significant barriers, primarily the syndrome of compassion fatigue. This article describes how physicians can enhance the safety of families. Universal education offers more opportunities for physicians to communicate with survivors and perpetrators of violence. Specific documentation by physicians will enhance patient care and public health surveillance efforts. Safety planning skills offer immediate benefits to patients facing acute dangers. The participation of physicians (individually and collectively) on adult intentional fatality review boards will make available more specific data and tools for the prevention of domestic violence.

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