Preparing The Emergency Department For Optimal Response

The optimal response to battered women will require services beyond the confines of the emergency department or hospital. Battered women's shelters, police, and the legal community all provide necessary services. To be maximally effective, there must be coordination between the medical and legal communities.

Every emergency department should develop and maintain close relationships with hospital and community domestic violence experts who can assist in the management of cases of domestic violence. Emergency physicians should ensure that their hospital has a domestic violence committee that meets regularly and includes broad representation from the various hospital departments as well as community-based domestic violence experts. This committee can assume the responsibility for developing a uniform, institution-wide response to domestic violence as well continuing education of hospital staff and, if confidentiality can be assured, complex case review and management.

The emergency department must have current lists of resources available in the community to assist battered women. Battered women's shelters, legal aid, and other legal assistance, and appropriate social service agencies should be included on the list. Community coordinating councils on family violence can be an effective way of improving a community's response to domestic violence.

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