Q: Hi Paul, a patient has reported domestic violence incident to me today. I am fresh from the UK. What are the regulations?

A: It is not uncommon that GPs see patients reporting a domestic violence incident. Initially, it seems to be an ordinary consultation addressing minor injuries. However, later on, GPs are often asked for legal reports or Court attendances. What are the GP’s reporting and recording obligations? How to minimise the impact of the situation on GPs? A significant body of literature concentrates on what to do for the victim of abuse. However, very little literature is dedicated to minimising an impact on GPs. This article concerns adult victims of domestic violence.

In point form:

  • Currently, there is no mandatory requirement to report domestic violence where the victim is an adult in Victoria.
  • Keep your notes neutral. Do not offer your opinion. Record only what you see, e.g. ‘four bruises on the left forearm’ instead of ‘four bruises on the left forearm where partner held the patient’.
  • Whatever the patient says must be recorded with the preceding ‘patient states that…’
  • Record the patient’s emotional state, e.g. ‘patient is visibly upset’. That may save you from being called to Court as a witness. With some luck, providing the notes as a report will suffice. Notes that leave anything open to interpretation will lead to a possibility of being called to Court as a witness.

*1800Respect phone number 1800 737 732

Categories: Q&A