Although screening for child abuse at emergency departments (EDs) increases the detection rate of potential child abuse, an accurate instrument is lacking. This study was designed to measure the accuracy of a screening instrument for detection of potential child abuse used in EDs. In a prospective cohort study at three Dutch EDs, a 6-item screening instrument for child abuse, Escape, was completed for each child visiting the ED. The data from the completed Escape instrument was used to calculate sensitivity, specificity, and the positive/negative predictive value per item. The clinical notes and conclusions of the screen instruments of all potentially abused children reported to the hospitals' Child Abuse Teams were collected and reviewed by an expert panel. A logistic regression model was used to evaluate the predictors of potential abuse. Completed Escape instruments were available for 18,275 ED visits. Forty-four of the 420 children with a positive screening result, and 11 of the 17,855 children with a negative result were identified as potentially abused. Sensitivity of the Escape instrument was 0.80 and specificity was 0.98. Univariate logistic regression showed that potentially abused children were significantly more likely to have had an aberrant answer to at least one of the items, OR=189.8, 95% CI [97.3, 370.4]. Most of the children at high risk for child abuse were detected through screening. The Escape instrument is a useful tool for ED staff to support the identification of those at high risk for child abuse.
Keywords: Child abuse; Emergency service; Hospital; Mass screening; Validation studies as topic.
Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.