Objective: To evaluate the adequacy of the documentation of referral forms for sexually abused females aged 13–19 years directed to the Sexual Assault Follow-up and Evaluation (SAFE) Clinic at the Agape Family Medicine Clinic, Nassau, The Bahamas, for interim management.
Methods: An approved review was performed on 123 referral forms regarding sexually abused females aged 13–19 years who attended the SAFE Clinic from 2011 to 2015. The exercise focussed on documentation adequacy based on a scoring system developed by the researchers (> 50% was assessed to be adequate; records of the referee’s disposition of the patient, the date of the incident and evidence of sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening were considered vital for adequacy). Descriptive and inferential statistics were calculated.
Results: The median age of the participants was 14 years (interquartile range: 13–15). Of the 63.4% (78) with documented nationality, 88.5% (69) were Bahamian and 11.5% (9) Haitian. Documentation status did not differ statistically significantly by nationality. Regarding documentation, 74% (91) recorded the name of the patient’s school, 59.3% (73) recorded that the patient knew the assailant and 17.9% (22) indicated that the patient did not know the assailant, while 22.8% (28) did not document this latter information. Type of sexual penetration was indicated by 65.9% (81). Of the vital variables, 18.7% (23) recorded the referee’s disposition of the patient, 29.8% (36) the date of the incident and 60.2% (74) evidence of STI screening; 7.3% (9) documented all three and 22.8% (28) two. The mean percentage of documentation for vital variables was 49.3% (± 3.6) for the Accident and Emergency (A&E) Department, Princess Margaret Hospital, Nassau, versus 30.5% (± 4.0) for public health clinics (PHCs) (p = 0.001). Overall, 69.9% (86 of 123) of the referral forms were deemed inadequate: 64.7% (33 of 51) from the A&E Department versus 73.4% (47 of 64) from PHCs among the 115 patients who provided referral information.
Conclusion: Documentation deficiencies of the sexual abuse referral forms demand reform. Complete and consistent documentation is required.