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VIO-008: Domestic Violence of Adults

Domestic Violence of Adults: The Wisconsin Medical Society believes it is the obligation of physicians and their teams to:

  1. Privately identify and screen patients for domestic violence.
  2. Respond appropriately to violence disclosures in accordance with Wisconsin law.
  3. Appropriately address clinical effects of violence in their patients.
  4. Refer patients to appropriate community and health care services.
  5. Carefully and discretely document disclosures in the patient’s medical record.

The Society acknowledges the significant long-term health consequences of domestic violence including death and injury to patients. It is therefore important that physicians assess patients for signs or effects of domestic violence where indicated or appropriate. The Society also recognizes that reporting to law enforcement without the victim’s consent potentially may further endanger the patient or others. Wisconsin law places obligations and restrictions on whether and when a physician can or must report instances of or injuries caused by domestic violence to law enforcement. It is therefore vital that physicians become informed of their legal obligations and limitations on reporting incidences of or injuries caused by domestic violence. To the extent allowed by law, physicians should respect the patient’s right not to disclose domestic abuse or to refuse intervention when the patient believes such action is not in his or her best interest. Physicians should ensure that all such assessments, conversations and decisions are documented in the patient’s health record. (HOD, 0415)