Domestic violence homicides: ED use before victimization

Michael C. Wadman, Robert L. Muelleman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to document prior emergency department (ED) use and injuries presented by victims of domestic violence (DV) homicides. We identified all female DV homicide cases investigated by Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department (KCPD) officials over 5 years. Medical Records from 12 hospitals were searched to determine how many homicide victims were in the ED within the 2 years preceding their homicide. The records were reviewed and classified according to the Flitcraft Criteria. KCPD documented 139 female homicides victims, with 34 (24.5%) of these ruled DV-related. Of these 34 victims, 15 (44%) presented to an ED within 2 years of homicide. The 15 subjects made 48 total visits, which included 20 (42%) injury-related visits. Fourteen (93%) of the victims seen in the ED presented with injuries on at least 1 encounter. Eight patients had head injuries (53.3%), 2 had perineal lacerations (13.3%), 2 had rapes (13.3%), and 1 had a suicide attempt (6.7%). The medical records of 8 (53.3%) of the 15 victims yielded at least suggestive evidence of battering. There was documented domestic violence in 2 cases and intervention in none. Because nearly half of all women who were victims of a DV-related homicide had been in the ED within 2 years before their deaths, the ED could play an important role in prevention. Approximately one half had documentation at least suggestive of battering. These results suggest the potential for universal screening, and documented safety assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-691
Number of pages3
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1999


  • Domestic violence
  • Emergency department
  • Homicide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine

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