'Domestic Violence: the General Practitioner's Role': an extract on photographic evidence
This extract is reproduced with the permission of the Royal College of General Practitioners from the work of Dr Iona Heath, MRCP, FRCGP, 'Domestic Violence: The General Practitioner's Role'
Photographs can convey the severity of injuries much more effectively than verbal description and, whenever possible, photographs should be taken of all patients with visible injuries. This will not be possible for many general practitioners and, if this is the case, advise the patient to have photographs taken elsewhere.
|1 Explain to the patient that photographs will be very useful as evidence if she decides to prosecute the abuser now or in the future. |
|2 Explain to the patient that photographs will become part of the patient's medical record and, as such, can only be released with the patient's permission. |
|3 Obtain written consent from the patient to take photographs. (Written informed consent should include the statement, These photographs will only be released if and when the undersigned gives written permission to release the medical records'.) |
|4 Use a good Polaroid camera with colour film flash bulbs. |
|5 Photograph in brightest light possible. |
|6 Attempt to take close-up of injury but try to include an identifiable feature of the patient. If this is not possible, a long shot should be followed by a close-up. |
|7 The photographer should sign and date the back of each photograph. |
|8 Place photographs in a sealed envelope and attach securely to the patient's record. Mark the envelope with the date and the notation 'Photographs of patient's injuries'. |
|9 Bruising is often more obvious two or three days after the injury. If this is likely to be the case, the patient should be advised to return at a later date, or to have more photographs taken elsewhere (for example, at the police station). |