Objective: To determine how often and for what reasons a hospital-based multidisciplinary child abuse team concluded that a report of alleged or suspected child abuse was unnecessary in young children with fractures.
Methods: A retrospective review was completed of all children less than 12 months of age who, because of fractures, were referred to the hospital multidisciplinary child abuse team for consultation regarding the need to consider child abuse.
Results: The team received 99 consultations, reported 92 (93%) children as alleged or possible victims of physical abuse, and did not report 7 (7%). Age at presentation of those who were reported was 4.2 months compared to 3.0 months in the non-reported group. The average number of fractures in the reported group was 2.9 (SD 3.53) compared to 3.4 (SD 4.6) in the non-reported group. Factors that led to cases not being reported included: (a) a trauma history consistent with the fracture (n=4), (b) a diagnosis of bone fragility secondary to genetic, nutritional or medical therapy etiologies (n=2), and (c) iatrogenic fracture (n=1).
Conclusions: Seven percent of the children less than 12 months of age and with at least one fracture referred to the multidisciplinary team for evaluation of possible child abuse were not reported as alleged or suspected physical abuse. The involvement of the hospital multidisciplinary child abuse team may have prevented unnecessary investigation by the county social services agency and/or police, and possible out-of-home temporary placement.