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Physical child abuse: Diagnostic evaluation and management

Stephen C Boos, MD, FAAP
Section Editors
Daniel M Lindberg, MD
Teresa K Duryea, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


Concern for suspected abuse generally arises during the evaluation of a child with an acute medical condition, often an injury. Factors that typically alert the clinician to the possibility of abuse include historical inconsistencies, suspicious findings on physical examination, and social or familial risk factors. During evaluation, it is important for the clinician to maintain a nonjudgmental attitude with a focus on treating identified injuries and assuring that the child is protected from additional harm. Key interventions include reporting of suspected child abuse and assuring that the disposition maintains the child's safety. Hospitalization may be required until a full social investigation occurs.

The diagnostic evaluation for physical abuse in children will be reviewed here. Recognition of physical abuse; the orthopedic aspects of child abuse; the differential diagnosis for suspected child abuse, including orthopedic injuries, abusive head trauma; and the evaluation of other types of child abuse (ie, sexual abuse, child neglect, and emotional abuse) are discussed separately:

(See "Physical child abuse: Recognition".)

(See "Orthopedic aspects of child abuse".)

(See "Differential diagnosis of suspected child physical abuse".)


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Literature review current through: Jan 2017. | This topic last updated: Mon Sep 26 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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