Child Abuse and Neglect - Exams and Tests
An abused or neglected child who is taken to a doctor will first
have a general physical exam. The doctor will review the child's medical history and ask parents or caregivers questions about the child's
A child who is able to talk will be separated from the caregiver
during the interview.
The law requires doctors to consider the possibility of abuse or neglect. Along with
seeing signs of
physical abuse or
neglect, a doctor may become suspicious when:
- The injury is unusual or is not likely to be an
accident, especially for the child's age.
- The parents or caregivers don't have a good explanation, or the explanation changes.
- The parents or caregivers say no one saw the injury happen.
- Medical records show that
similar injuries or patterns of neglect have occurred in the past.
- The parents or
caregivers put off taking the child to the doctor without a good reason.
- The doctor finds signs of sexual abuse.
children in the care of the same person may also be examined and have X-rays
if police or doctors think it's needed.
Tests that are often used to help confirm or
rule out abuse or neglect include:
Other exams and tests depend on the specific medical
problem suspected or observed. For example:
Tracking a child's injuries
Information about a child's injuries is carefully recorded. A detailed
account of the injuries goes into the child's permanent health record.
This record usually
includes photographs and drawings of the injuries.
Measurements such as weight,
height, and head circumference are also taken and recorded to help establish a
child's baseline growth pattern. Recording these measurements on growth charts
can help identify
failure to thrive that sometimes is related to