An act of family violence occurs every 15 seconds! Domestic violence not only affects the victim, but also directly impacts public health and community resources. Detection of domestic violence may be very challenging, because victims and health practitioners are usually reluctant to initiate discussion concerning this form of abuse. All health practitioners should be alert for the possibility that the patient may have been the victim of domestic violence, which may present itself in many forms: physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, and financial. Domestic violence has been one of the nation's best-kept secrets, but as the health practitioner becomes more cognizant of the facts and assessment techniques, this cycle can be broken.

Under California law, any health practitioner in his or her scope of employment or professional capacity has a mandatory reporting responsibility when the health practitioner knows or reasonably suspects that a patient's injuries are a result of domestic violence. In accordance with the law and JCAHO accreditation requirements, UC Davis Health System has established reporting policies for suspected domestic violence. The health practitioner shall immediately telephone the local law enforcement agency and report his or her suspicions, followed by a written report sent to the local law enforcement agency within two working days. A health practitioner's intentional failure to report domestic violence is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment, fine, or both. Reporting pursuant with the law and policies shall be confidential and the health practitioners reporting domestic violence shall not be civilly or criminally liable for any reporting or authorized by law. The "Suspected Domestic Violence Injury Report" shall include, but not be limited to the following:

  1. name of injured person
  2. whereabouts of injured person
  3. character and extent of the person's injuries
  4. alleged perpetrator identified by the injured person
  5. any comments made by the injured person regarding past domestic violence
  6. a map of the victim's body, showing and identifying injuries and bruises at the time of health care
  7. the patient's consent to photograph the injuries

The health practitioner will also provide to the patient a UC Davis Health System Community Resources referral list.