Neurologists Should Routinely Assess Patients for Abuse

Position statement from the American Academy of Neurology endorses assessment of abuse

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Neurologists should evaluate patients for abuse and neglect, according to a position statement issued by the American Academy of Neurology published online Jan. 25 in Neurology.

Elliott A. Schulman, M.D., and Anna DePold Hohler, M.D., on behalf of the American Academy of Neurology, developed a position statement endorsing the assessment of abuse and neglect in neurologic patients, and supporting education of the neurologic community to carry out the assessments.

The authors note that abuse can affect the development of neurologic disease. Lifetime exposure to violence and abuse often leads to neurologic problems, including headaches, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndromes, syncope, and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures. Physicians should routinely screen all patients for past and ongoing violence, while treating them with respect and dignity, and without attributing blame. Ideally, patients should be questioned alone, and this is imperative for questioning children about abuse. The abuse should be documented as reported. Abuse of children, elders, and disabled individuals should be reported to the appropriate authorities, and spousal abuse should be reported in specific states. Once abuse is identified, established protocols should be utilized and resources should be provided to support the patient. Neurologists should support multidisciplinary efforts to identify, treat, and prevent abuse and intimate partner violence.

"Providing resources to those being abused can result in improved outcomes. Further, identification of an abuse history may influence the assessment and treatment of presenting health concerns. By identifying this issue, and providing an appropriate referral, neurologists may improve quality of life and potentially ameliorate neurologic disability," the authors write.

One of the study authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

Position Statement

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