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NCJ Number: NCJ 184530   Add to Shopping cart   Find in a Library
Title: Medical Records as Legal Evidence of Domestic Violence
  Document URL: PDF 
Author(s): Nancy E. Issac Sc.D. ; Pualani Enos J.D.
Date Published: 2000
Page Count: 97
  Annotation: This study sought to describe, from a legal perspective, how domestic violence was documented in the medical charts of abused women, based on a review of 96 medical charts of 86 abused women covering 772 visits to two Boston area hospitals.
Abstract: For 184 of the 772 visits (24 percent), detailed information was abstracted on the medical records in which there was an indication of domestic violence, an injury of some type, or both. Findings revealed that legal and medical communities hold many misperceptions about each other's roles in responding to domestic violence, and that many barriers to collaboration are based on these misperceptions and false assumptions. Some legal advocates did not use regularly use medical records in civil contexts or to their full potential in criminal contexts. Reasons for not using medical records included difficulty and expense in obtaining them, illegibility, incompleteness or inaccuracy, and the possibility that the information would be more harmful than helpful. Many health care providers were confused about whether, how, and why to record information about domestic violence in medical charts. In an effort to be neutral regarding abuse situations, some health care providers used language that was likely to harm an abused woman's legal case. Among medical visits that contained some indication of abuse or injury, one-third of notes from doctors or nurses contained vital information that was illegible. Nonetheless, many health care providers recorded significant details regarding injuries and health conditions in abused women's charts. Photographs were almost never present in the medical charts, and the medical records did not mention photographs stored in other locations, such as with the local police. The authors identify changes in documentation practices that may improve the usefulness of abused women's medical records in legal contexts and that may help health care providers to work more effectively in support of abused patients. Data abstraction tools used in the study are appended. 37 references and 10 tables
Main Term(s): Victims of violence
Index Term(s): Evidence identification and analysis ; Criminal investigation ; Medical research ; Medical evaluation ; Domestic assault ; Abused women ; Female victims ; NIJ final report ; NIJ grant-related documents ; Massachusetts
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice (NIJ)
US Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
United States of America
Grant Number: 97-WT-VX-0008
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America

Northeastern University School of Law
Domestic Violence Institute
Boston, MA 02115
United States of America
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Country: United States of America
Language: English
Note: See NCJ-184528 for the summary report.
  To cite this abstract, use the following link:

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