oa South African Family Practice - Forensic documentation of intimate partner violence in Primary Health Care : review article

Volume 46, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



An increasing number of women who present to the health care settings with trauma and injuries are victims of intimate partner violence (IPV). There is evidence that women who experience IPV present to these settings with other shortterm and long-term health consequences of ongoing abuse other than the obvious physical trauma. Often they do not disclose that they are victims of IPV. Evidence also indicates an increase of IPV among pregnant women who are seen in antenatal clinics and other health settings presenting with maternal and foetal and or neonatal complications. But this is not always documented in the antenatal records of these women. Health care providers have always documented the care rendered to all patients, but the documentation of intimate partner violence demands special attention because it has forensic ramifications and a potential to be brought up in the court of law for criminal and / or civil lawsuits. <br>The purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of forensic documentation, record keeping of injuries and experiences IPV victims share with health care providers. Forensic use of health records for abused women is also described. For the purpose of this article, intimate partner violence is defined as "physical and sexual assault that occurs in intimate partner relationships". An intimate partner is defined as "current or former spouses, opposite-sex cohabiting partners, same-sex cohabiting partners, boyfriends, girlfriends or dates." There is also an increase in reports of intimate partner violence among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relationships. Thus the use of the term intimate partner violence is more appropriate than domestic violence or wife abuse.

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