WORKING WITH BATTERED WOMEN: A Handbook for Health Care Professionals

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Perform an Appropriate Examination

  • Visually examine under the patient's hospital gown for injuries to the ribs, breasts, groin, upper arms, and other body parts covered by clothing.

  • Note injuries that do not seem consistent with the explanation provided.

  • Note multiple injuries in various states of healing.

    Of course, not all women who come to you will present with obvious injuries. It is possible that a woman when questioned about abuse may deny being abused even if there is strong evidence to the contrary. The woman may not be able to see herself as an abused woman or may not be ready to ask for assistance. Remember the different reasons that make it difficult for women to leave or even to seek help. It is important not to be judgmental. You may wish to give information about the extent and nature of violence against women. It is very important to offer her names and telephone numbers of emergency services or counselling services for abused women. You can indicate that it is something you always do and she can throw away the information later if it is not relevant to her. Don't assume your attempts to intervene have been ineffectual. Your help may make all the difference if and when she does decide to take action.

    The encounter must be considered a success if:

    • the abuse is accurately diagnosed
    • the patient is educated about woman abuse
    • the patient is made aware of existing resources
    • a follow-up appointment is arranged.


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