The evaluation of suspected child physical abuse

Pediatrics. 2015 May;135(5):e1337-54. doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-0356.


Child physical abuse is an important cause of pediatric morbidity and mortality and is associated with major physical and mental health problems that can extend into adulthood. Pediatricians are in a unique position to identify and prevent child abuse, and this clinical report provides guidance to the practitioner regarding indicators and evaluation of suspected physical abuse of children. The role of the physician may include identifying abused children with suspicious injuries who present for care, reporting suspected abuse to the child protection agency for investigation, supporting families who are affected by child abuse, coordinating with other professionals and community agencies to provide immediate and long-term treatment to victimized children, providing court testimony when necessary, providing preventive care and anticipatory guidance in the office, and advocating for policies and programs that support families and protect vulnerable children.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse / diagnosis*
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Mandatory Reporting
  • Medical History Taking
  • Physical Examination
  • Physician's Role
  • Risk Factors
  • Wounds and Injuries / diagnosis
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology