Data in electronic health records can help physicians identify likely victims of domestic abuse earlier, according to a new study published online in the British Medical Journal, the Boston Globe's "White Coat Notes" reports.
For the study, researchers from Children's Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School examined six years of hospital admissions and emergency department visits for patients ages 18 and older. Based on the patients' records, including injuries and assaults, the researchers then identified whether patients met a definition of domestic abuse. According to the study, the researchers were able identify likely domestic abuse victims an average of two years before a diagnosis was actually made.
The researchers have developed a display tool that eventually could become part of patients' EHRs. The tool is not yet ready for implementation, but the researchers say their model could form the foundation of an early warning system for physicians.
The researchers now plan to study the predictive nature of other health problems, such as diabetes and depression (Cooney, "White Coat Notes," Boston Globe, 9/29).