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available regarding support services within the hospital's primary service area including their range of services, admission and discharge polices, and payment criteria.

Therefore, health care providers engaged in discharge planning should be very familiar with the local domestic violence services in their area and be able to describe the range of services available, i.e., residential and non-residential services and how to access those services. The patient should be provided both written and verbal information about local domestic violence services and should be provided the opportunity to speak directly with the local domestic violence service provider, if desired.

No victim should be discharged if the patient states it is unsafe for her to return home and that she has no alternative safe place to stay. Hospitals must either hold the victim in their facility or work with the victim to identify a safe and appropriate option. The patient should retain the right to determine what options will meet her safety-related needs.

i.When making referrals,  and in particular, when referring to mental health providers or substance abuse treatment programs, health care providers, with the victim's consent, should inform the provider of the patient's history of domestic violence and related safety needs. Health care providers should refer victims to practitioners in these settings who are knowledgeable of and experienced with the provision of appropriate treatment and services to victims and who prioritize victim safety and abuser accountability. (See  Mental Health System and  Substance Abuse Treatment System.)

Referral to mental health services and/or substance abuse treatment services should not be made in lieu of a referral to the local domestic violence service provider, but in those cases in which the specific services are either clinically indicated and/or requested by the patient. In all cases, a referral should be made to the local domestic violence service provider.

j.Health care providers should keep accurate medical record documentation of a victim's statements, injuries, symptoms, treatments, and referrals, including providing and/or arranging for appropriate evidence collection and retention, and taking or arranging for appropriate photographs to be taken of a victim's injuries.

The medical record is a legal document and, as such, is maintained for a period of six years in New York State or three years past the age of majority (age 18). Documentation and photographs in the medical record are very important

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