If you are a medical professional and see a patient who is obviously suffering from abuse, you will likely want to act on this. However, not every case is crystal clear. This may lead you to wonder if you must report suspected domestic violence.
You may be aware that you are a mandatory reporter for child abuse, which means if you suspect abuse is occurring, you must tell authorities. However, domestic violence situations are different when they involve an adult. In these cases, Texas law does not require you to report the incident to law enforcement. But, you do have other requirements.
If you suspect a case of domestic violence with an adult patient, you must document it in that patient’s file. You also need to document the additional steps you take to inform the person of their rights to stop the abuse. The documentation also needs to include why you believe this is a case of domestic violence.
You must give the patient a document that outlines his or her rights to get help. This form should let the person know that violence is illegal, and he or she has the right to report it to officers. It must outline available help he or she can access. The documentation should include contact information for law enforcement and assistance organizations. It should also provide information on what the law says about protection orders and options the person has to seek protection.
Keep in mind that if the patient is a minor, it falls under child abuse laws, which do require you to report.