7. Safety Planning and Discharge Instruction

When a patient discloses IPV or is assessed to be at-risk, it is critical to discuss immediate safety issues as part of the discharge planning process. Some questions to ask include:

  • Is it safe for you to go home?
  • Do you have a safe place to stay (e.g. friends or family)?
  • Would you like a referral for shelter, counseling or an Order of Protection?

Patients assessed to be at-risk or involved in an abusive intimate relationship should be given resources to take with them, such as an IPV safety/shoe card (a business card-sized brochure that provides information about IPV including a hotline number), a list of local IPV advocacy agencies, or at minimum a hotline number for a local IPV agency. If it is too dangerous for the patient to take IPV written materials home, help her or him memorize a hotline number, such as the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s toll free hotline (877) TO END DV; and

In order to make effective referrals for IPV services, hospitals need to develop formal relationships with local IPV organizations. A written Memorandum of Understanding between a hospital and a local IPV agency provides a framework for collaboration with clear expectations and responsibilities spelled out. Click here for a sample MOU currently used by a suburban Cook County hospital and DV agency.

For additional local referral sources, see CCDPH’s on-line Domestic Violence Resource Locator by clicking here

Safety Planning Tools for Patients:

Futures Without Violence’s “Consensus Guidelines in Identifying and Responding to Domestic Violence Victimization in Health Care Settings” provides a tool for IPV victims to develop strategies for their own safety in the case of current or future violence from their abusers. The tool is a fill-in-the-blank form that lists important documents and resources to keep on-hand and can be printed and handed out to patients. Click here to see “Safety Plan and Discharge Instructions” in the Compendium’s Appendix H, pages 44-45.

The National Women’s Health Information Center under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides a two-page “Safety Planning List” PDF file that can be printed here and distributed to female patients impacted by IPV.