J Clin Outcomes Manage
Improving physician identification and reporting of child abuse
Fingarson A, Flaherty FG, Sege RD
Abstract: Objective: To discuss physician identification and reporting of child abuse and barriers that prevent physicians from properly addressing child maltreatment. Methods: Case presentation and review of the literature. Results: Physicians often fail to consider child abuse as a cause of a child’s injuries and even when they suspect child abuse, a quarter fail to report their suspicion to child protective services. Some of the reasons that physicians give for not reporting suspicious injuries include that they are uncertain about the legal mandate to report, they are uncertain whether the child’s injury was caused by abuse, they lack confidence in the investigation process, and they fear negative personal consequences including the loss of patients from their practice. Conclusion: All physicians who care for children need to understand how to identify child maltreatment and report suspected child maltreatment to child protective services. Physician failure to properly diagnose and report suspected child abuse may allow the child to suffer continuing abuse leading to short and long-term morbidity and potentially death
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