X-Rays Provide Clues to Domestic Abuse
Radiologic signs of injury – injuries that appear on X-rays – could be used to help identify victims of domestic abuse and intimate partner violence, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. The study suggests X-ray images in medical records can be used to detect patterns of recurrent injury, which may indicate physical abuse and domestic violence – a problem that affects 1 in 4 women in the United States.
For the study, which was conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, researchers reviewed electronic medical records (EMRs) from patients referred to domestic abuse and sexual assault programs from January to October 2016. They discovered characteristic injuries among the victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault, who were overwhelmingly female.
Common injuries observed by the researchers included soft tissue injuries, fractures of the hands and arms indicating attempts at defense, facial fractures, and head injuries. Through Brigham and Women's picture archiving and communication system, emergency room physicians, radiologists, and primary care doctors can compare current injuries and prior, healed injuries and intervene when abuse is suspected.