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Women Health. 2002;35(2-3):71-81.

Intimate partner violence from the emergency medicine perspective.

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University of California, Davis, Sacramento 95817, USA.



The incidence of acute cases of intimate partner violence (IPV) in the Emergency Department (ED) patients is between 2 and 7.2%. Ongoing IPV may be an immediate cause of presentation for medical care, or it may not be readily apparent. Over the last two decades efforts to improve identification of IPV in the ED have been successful.


A medline literature search from 1981-2001 was performed. A review of intimate partner violence from the emergency department provider perspective is performed. A discussion of the screening/detection of intimate partner violence and the barriers to improving detection rates is provided.


The review of the current literature shows that IPV is a frequent cause of illness or injury in patients presenting in the ED. Screening programs for intimate partner violence have shown to increase the identification of patients experiencing acute episodes of abuse and seeking treatment. The difficulty has been in sustaining the programs and improving the screening of patients. Patient, provider and systems barriers prevent adequate recognition and management of the problem.


Detection of IPV in patients presenting to the ED can be improved by providing educational programs and screening tools to health care providers. Sustaining the screening programs is more difficult and requires a health care system-wide effort.

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