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Medical Professionals Withholding Medical Files From Domestic Violence Victims

Posted Apr 21 2010 12:00am

Unfortunately, I have experience with this. After going through brutal domestic violence, I was referred to a specific doctor by my abuser for my neck injury. I remember telling him about the abuse that was going on in my home, how my leg was broken, what I was living through....he never wrote a single thing in my medical file. It was as if it didn't exist. Some don't understand this. How can a doctor do that? In most cases, domestic violence victims are treated in their home towns, and if their town is small like mine was, everyone knows everyone. My abuser and his family were also patients of this doctor, hence the reason he didn't want to get involved in my case. He treated me for neck injuries until I left Orange County and shortly after I applied for Crime Victims Compensation in NYS, which was a long drawn out battle for me, and usually is for many domestic abuse victims and survivors. Although I won my CVB case, and received most of my compensation for medical bills despite the lack of medical documentation I had, there has been one doctor that has not complied with the NYS Crime Victims Board requests for my medical documentation. I have personally been contacting Dr. Stockli for the last 6 months and asking that my medical information be sent to NYS for response. Rockland Family Shelter has been calling and advocating for me as well, still no response from the office.

When I called NYS CVB today, a Crime Victims Specialist informed me that they aren't able to contact the providers directly, which means that it is out of their hands and up to the victim to get their own medical documents. This left me confused. There are so many victims of domestic violence that are in this exact situation, where medical documentation is being withheld or the documents don't exist for specific reasons. I barely have adequate medical files from my own case--and I know there are many in my situation. If NYS Crime Victims Board can't advocate for victims, and a victim can't obtain their own medical information for the state, and the shelter can't directly contact the providers either, then who can advocate for a domestic violence victim that is trying to get NYS compensation for medical injuries? The answer is NOBODY.

Because I won my appeal hearing, the NYS CVB is overlooking the fact that my former doctor is not complying with the state office, and they have agreed to compensate me for my medical losses regardless (which is something I almost couldn't believe due to my past experiences with CVB). Today it worked out in my favor, which is highly unusual, but I always wonder about those victims being left out and re-victimized by the system- by their own doctors, and by the people that are supposed to assist them. I still strongly believe that the NYS CVB needs to re-examine the way they handle domestic abuse claims, as many victims of abuse do not have the appropriate documentation to submit due to failure to report the crime to police and to medical personnel. It has also been a challenge for me to get all of my doctors to submit files and paperwork to the NYS CVB. Many do not want to comply with CVB requests because they are long and time-consuming and it is up to the victim to put pressure on medical professionals that do not want to do the paperwork. In any case, victims need someone to advocate for them, and I have yet to find someone that helps domestic violence victims in these situations.
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