abuse is more than broken bones and bruises. While physical abuse might be the
most apparent sign, emotional abuse or child neglect leave deeper and lasting
scars on a child's mind.
Even though it is a matter of grave concern,
unfortunately child abuse often remains unrecognized in the emergency
department, at times due to sheer negligence of the attending staff or
sometimes when they fail to abide by the "screening guidelines" in such cases.
study in The Netherlands probed about the detection rates of suspected cases of
child abuse in emergency departments, complying and not complying with the
In a multi
center study, Eveline Louwers from University Medical Centre Rotterdam in The
Netherlands and colleagues collected data for children less than 18 years of
age who visited the emergency departments of seven Dutch hospitals over a
A total of 24472 visits were analyzed, out of
which 54% took place in an emergency department complying with screening
guidelines. Reports indicate that child abuse was suspected in 52 children. In
40 of these 52 cases, a checklist of warning signs had been completed which was
compared with a completion rate of 19% in the total sample. It was noticed that
hospitals which adhered with screening guidelines for child abuse, the
detection rate was higher than those which did not comply.
Authors concluded the study by reporting that the detection rates of suspected child
abuse in children who visited an emergency department were low, but an
increase is likely if uniform screening guidelines are widely implemented and
. It was
noticed that the detection rate of suspected abuse was much higher in hospitals
where emergency department staff complied with screening guidelines than the
ones where the emergency department staff was non-compliant.
after reviewing the results of the study recommend that hospitals should
encourage compliance with screening guidelines, implement strict policies, and
use the outcomes of these interventions to develop an optimal screening
protocol for emergency departments. Also, further research is needed on the
methods of identifying genuine child abuse events among the high risk group of
suspected cases identified by screening.
the study highlighted the importance of the fact that preventing recurrent
abuse or recognizing abuse at an early stage is crucial in limiting its