How should you go about detecting signs of abuse with infants, children, and non-verbal patients in the ambulatory setting? Speaking with families and documenting their response to questions is one way. But, this has a great deal of variation and creates many potential gaps. How can you ensure safe patient care while appropriately screening and fulfilling regulatory requirements?
How to Screen for Signs of Abuse
Screening for signs of abuse centers on care givers using their knowledge and education to detect signs and symptoms of abuse. Hospitals should have criteria to identify pediatric or non-verbal patients who display issues like:
- Sexual abuse
- Financial abuse
- Human trafficking
- Physical abuse
- Emotional abuse
There is no evidence-based screening tool that I have seen that can identify the above abuse/neglect victims. Instead, care givers should be sensitive and alert to how these patient present for care. This would include a skin assessment for pediatric patients, as well as observational assessment for controlling or fear behaviors. When a care giver suspects abuse, they should know what to do next. This includes contacting the physician while the patient is still roomed or contacting social work team for a more in-depth evaluation.
Reorienting staff to detecting signs of abuse or neglect is encouraged.
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