Doctors could help control a nationwide epidemic of family violence by reporting as well as treating violent injuries, 90 percent of the respondents said in an American Medical Association poll released Sunday.
Dr. Robert E. McAfee, vice chairman of the AMA's board of trustees, reported the survey results at a medical leadership conference in Miami Beach. He called violence "a medical issue of huge proportion," and one that rivals the AIDS epidemic in its impact."Violence has become too routine in America," McAfee said, "and we who try to sew up or clean up or bind the injuries that result from this routine need to ask ourselves: Why are so many forms of violence so routine?"
McAfee urged physicians to recognize and work together against the problem.
"Virtually every physician in every specialty in every part of America regularly treats patients who are victims of violence," McAfee said.
"Yet too few physicians make the connection that the injuries or illnesses they are treating are the result of a nationwide epidemic as virulent, as pervasive, as destructive as the AIDS epidemic itself."
In the AMA survey, 90 percent of the respondents said physicians should report possible cases of abuse to the police.
Eighty-three percent said they felt they could tell a physician if they had been a victim of family violence or if they had injured a member of their family.
A random national sample of 1,250 adults was interviewed by telephone in January by Schulman, Ronca & Bucuvalas Inc. of New York, for the AMA survey.