Family violence is a heartbreaking and far too common problem that we as nurses must contend with in our practice. Unfortunately, those who have suffered or witnessed abuse are more likely to repeat violence later in their lives (McKinney et al., 2018, p. 37). Signs that we as healthcare workers can be aware of that would alert us to potential child or intimate partner violence include patients with bruises at different states of healing (Falkner, 2018), bruises of odd shapes of recognizable objects like wooden spoons or paddles, children or adults that avoid eye contact and care partners that answer questions for the patient before the patient is allowed to answer for themselves.
Those care partners, who many also be the perpetrators of violence, may also give stories themselves or urge the patients to tell stories that do not match the injuries being treated.
I do not currently work in a healthcare setting but in the state of California, where I intend to practice, nurses are mandated reporters of suspected or observed child and elder abuse or neglect. The reporting of such observation or suspicion needs to be made immediately by phone to local law enforcement with a follow-up written report within 2 working days (BRN, 2010).
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