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New Quick Safety advisory on health care addressing intimate partner violence

An increase of intimate partner violence reported during the COVID-19 pandemic Tuesday, January 18 2022

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Katie Looze Bronk
Corporate Communications  
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(OAKBROOK TERRACE, Illinois, January 18, 2022) – Health care providers reported an increase in intimate partner violence (IPV) among patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. While IPV survivors seek medical care in many health care settings, they often don’t readily share their abuse experience unless specifically asked and if ready to accept help. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “IPV refers to behavior by an intimate partner or ex-partner that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm, including physical aggression, sexual coercion, psychological abuse and controlling behaviors.”1

Given the recent increase in IPV, The Joint Commission has released a new Quick Safety advisory titled, “Addressing intimate partner violence and helping to protect patients.” The advisory provides related Joint Commission requirements and national recommendations to identify and help patients who have experienced IPV.

The Joint Commission requires organizations to use written criteria to identify patients who may be victims of physical assault, sexual assault, sexual molestation, domestic abuse, or elder or child abuse and neglect. Furthermore, The Joint Commission requires providers to report cases of possible abuse and neglect to external agencies in accordance with laws and regulations.

“The pandemic has increased stressors at home as many have had to isolate,” says Ana Pujols McKee, MD, executive vice president, chief medical officer, and chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer, The Joint Commission. “It is important that clinicians conducting telehealth visits be alert to signs of intimate partner violence and inquire about this after ensuring the patient is in a safe space to talk.”

The Quick Safety advisory also provides safety actions for health care organizations to consider such as:

  • Partnering with a local domestic violence provider to engage in training or training resources.
  • Providing training on the basics of how to identify IPV to all employees who interact with patients, not just to licensed health care providers. 
  • Examining whether current screening questions are specific enough and providers are asking the questions as indicated within their organization’s written policies. 
  • Relying on interpreters rather than family members or escorts when evaluating non-English speaking patients. 

A list of resources from WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Women’s Preventive Services Initiative, Bright Futures and more is included in the full Quick Safety advisory. It may be reproduced if credited to The Joint Commission.  

1World Health Organization. Violence Against Women fact sheet.

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About The Joint Commission  
Founded in 1951, The Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 22,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. An independent, nonprofit organization, The Joint Commission is the nation’s oldest and largest standards-setting and accrediting body in health care. Learn more about The Joint Commission at www.jointcommission.org.

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