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Article   |    
Response of Emergency Rooms to Victims of Interpersonal Violence
Carl C. Bell; Esther J. Jenkins; Wolanyo Kpo; Helen Rhodes
Psychiatric Services 1994; doi:
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This research was partly supported by United Way of Chicago.

Community Mental Health Council, 8704 South Constance, Chicago, Illinois 60617

Chicago State University; Community Mental Health Council

Chicago State University

1994 by the American Psychiatric Association

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Objective: This study explored whether emergency rooms in a metropolitan county had standard procedures or offered services that address the needs of victims of interpersonal violence. Methods: Fifty hospital emergency rooms (75 percent of the facilities eligible to participate in the survey) responded to a 55-item questionnaire about their handling of victims of interpersonal violence. Results: Emergency rooms generally relied on patient self-reports to determine whether a patient is a victim of violence. Standard operating procedures for reporting cases to state agencies and referrals for additional services were most likely to exist for areas in which hospitals' response is mandated by law, such as sexual assault and child abuse. In addition, three-fourths of the hosxpitals had procedures for dealing with elder abuse, an area in which reporting is strongly encouraged. Most direct services received by victims were not specifically targeted to them but were services offered to the general emergency room population. The most frequent referrals were to rape advocacy groups and battered women's groups. Conclusions: The hospitals were most likely to respond to victims in areas in which their actions were mandated by law, such as sexual assault and child abuse, or strongly recommended, such as elder abuse. The majority of emergency rooms do not conduct adequate epidemiological surveillance of injuries resulting from interpersonal violence. Protocols, services, and referrals for victims of family violence, peer violence, and other forms of interpersonal violence should be mandated by law or by standards of treatment.

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violence ; advocacy
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