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House of Delegates updates domestic violence policy

January 05, 2015

By Stacie Crozier

In a year where high-profile accusations of family violence have rocked the National Football League, the ADA House of Delegates streamlined Association policy on family violence during its meetings at ADA 2014 — America's Dental Meeting in San Antonio.

Resolution 89H-2014, Educating Dental Professionals in Recognizing and Reporting Abuse, states that "the ADA supports educating dental professionals to recognize abuse and neglect across all age groups and reporting such incidences to the proper authorities as required by state law." The House rescinded policies from 1993 and 1996.

"Family violence has been a hot topic in the news media as high-profile players in the NFL have been accused of violence against children or partners," said Dr. Lynn Douglas Mouden, chief dental officer for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "There is a universal mandate for U. S. dentists to report suspected cases of abuse or neglect of children, but dentists should also be aware that some states also mandate reporting cases that deal with adults and elders as well."

Dr. Mouden is the founder of the PANDA program (Prevent Abuse and Neglect through Dental Awareness), a program in many U.S. states as well as countries worldwide that provides training for dentists on recognizing and reporting abuse and neglect.

"With training, dentists are better able to discern the difference between accidents and intentional injuries, or between otherwise normal conditions and the signs of violence," Dr. Mouden said. "Because laws vary from state to state, dentists should work with their state dental association to learn more about the laws regarding reporting of family violence and about opportunities to learn more about preventing family violence."

One such learning opportunity, Dr. Mouden added, is the 7th Biennial National Conference on Health and Domestic Violence, set for March 19-21, at the Renaissance Washington, D.C. Downtown Hotel.

The conference aims to advance the health care system's response to domestic violence. Medical, public health and family violence experts from across the U.S. will present workshops, scientific posters and plenary sessions on the latest research and most innovative clinical responses to domestic violence. The three-day program will focus on the work being done by physicians, physician assistants, dentists, nurses, nurse midwives, mental and behavioral health providers, social workers, domestic violence experts, researchers and others.

The conference is primarily funded by the Family Violence Prevention & Services Program, Family & Youth Services Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For more details on the conference, hotel accommodations or to register, click here.