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  • The Review Course in Family Medicine

5 Tips to Recognize Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the Emergency Department

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious public health concern that’s often missed in the ED. Here are 5 tips to ensure you’re ready to recognize IPV:

  1. IPV affects ALL demographics across genders, races, ages and socioeconomic status. Have a low threshold for screening- it’s low risk and low cost but has a massive impact.

  2. People experiencing IPV can present in very different ways, so consider it in patients with repeat presentations of the same complaint, chronic pain syndromes, mental health concerns and those with substance use disorders.

  3. All consenting patients should be referred to specialized IPV centres for services.

  4. When documenting, use clear and factual statements but keep legal language out of the medical record.

  5. Use ‘IPV’ in the diagnosis to enable coding and data capture, allowing better support for funding, programs and research.


The Women Abuse Screening Tool (WAST) and its short form version (WAST-SF) are quick validated screening tools to use in any primary care setting. References: Khatib, N., Sampsel, K. CAEP Position Statement Executive Summary. Can J Emerg Med 24,



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