12. When both partners are your patients

Special care is required if a patient discloses family violence, and the violent person is also your patient or is a patient within the same service.

If you have seen the victim or her children, your primary duty is to them. If the perpetrator is also your patient, you should refer them to another practitioner or another practice.

If both partners remain within your practice, you will need to take extra caution, for example¹⁴:

  • Establish staff protocols that ensure confidentiality of records.
  • There should be no discussion about suspected or confirmed abuse with the violent partner unless the woman consents to it.
  • If a woman agrees that you can talk with her partner about the violence, it is important that a safety plan is in place.

Couple or marital counselling is not appropriate in circumstances where there has been domestic violence, due to the power imbalance in the relationship and the threat to the woman’s safety.

 11. When your patient is the perpetrator

13. Subpoenas  


[14] Based on Lorraine E. Ferris et al., ‘Guidelines for managing domestic abuse when male and female partners are patients of the same physician’, (1997) 278 (10) Journal of the American Medical Association, 851-857.