On April 12, members from the Advancing Rights of Estonian Victims (AREV) project team together with healthcare professionals from Narva Hospital, Rakvere Hospital and East-Viru Central Hospital visited the Helsinki University Hospital in Finland. The study visit provided an opportunity to tour the facilities and discuss various topics relating to the use of the ‘PAKE Abuse and Body Map’ in both countries. While the tool has been used in numerous hospitals across Finland for about two decades, an adapted version is currently being piloted in three hospitals in the project´s pilot region in Estonia.
The tool is primarily used for the purpose of mapping, describing and documenting injuries. If a healthcare professional suspects or is informed that a patient has experienced abuse, they would complete the Abuse and Body map, on which they map the placement of the injuries, document the person´s complaints in their own words, describe what happened to the patient, assess the patient’s mental state, and capture other relevant details. After providing medical care and completing the Abuse and Body Map, the healthcare professional is encouraged to inform the victim about additional support services or establish initial contact between the individual and the service provider. With this tool, healthcare providers can offer comprehensive support to individuals who may not identify as victims, thus leading to the proactive identification of victimisation. The Abuse and Body map similarly helps to prevent both short- and long-term health damage caused by violence, abuse and negative childhood experiences. The information is gathered for treatment purposes.
Specialists from the Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) shared presentations on victims of violence and facial traumas, local legislation relating to privacy and the obligation to notify the authorities, and the use of the PAKE Abuse and Body Map. They highlighted the importance of accurate documentation of every injury and the necessity to inform patients of available support services. A role-play illustrated the process of the medical examination and the completion of the PAKE Abuse and Body Map. The visitors learned about the local legislation relevant to the treatment of victims of crime, how doctors in Finland cooperate with the police, and how they provide their judgement about the severity of the injuries and their possible consequences.
It was encouraging to observe the enthusiasm and motivation of healthcare professionals dedicated to providing the best possible care for their patients. Discussions revealed some shared challenges, while also bringing to light some key differences between the approaches in the two countries. Hopefully, the study visit will be the first of many opportunities to share ideas and learn from one another.