I receive a letter from the state, from the Washington State Department of Health Medical Commission.

It is a rather terrifying letter. It says that I am being investigated, a complaint from a patient, and I will be notified of the results.

It doesn't say what the complaint is.

I spend a bit of time worrying about it and then put it away. I can't think of anything I've done.

Months go by and then I get another letter. The investigation is complete and has been dismissed. It explains the complaint and now I know who it was. I know because the patient was upset.

It was a male patient in a physical. When I first started doing physicals I sat down and made lists of all the things that I thought I should discuss. What are the issues that affect people's health? It is a long list, tobacco, alcohol, drugs, seatbelts, family history, cholesterol, bone density, exercise and on and on and on.

Then I tried to cover all of it for every patient.

I included domestic violence. I asked this patient, as I try to on all physicals, if he was a victim of domestic violence. He was offended and thought I was accusing him of committing domestic violence. "No," I said, "I screen everyone on physicals. Men can be victims too." He was not mollified.

He reported me to the state. The state investigated. "No one has ever asked me that on a physical before," he complained.

"Screening for domestic violence is recommended. She is doing it right. It's the other doctors who aren't."

Complaint dismissed.

I think that there are still physicians who do not screen because they don't have the tools to respond to a positive screen. We should still be screening.


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