Pediatric Ophthalmologists' Experiences With Abusive Head Trauma

J Pediatr Ophthalmol Strabismus. Jan-Feb 2016;53(1):25-8. doi: 10.3928/01913913-20160113-08.

Abstract

Purpose: To estimate the number of cases of abusive head trauma seen by pediatric ophthalmologists and analyze factors associated with physician subpoenas and court testimonies.

Methods: Pediatric ophthalmologists were surveyed about their experiences with abusive head trauma. The survey was sent to 875 active members of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus (AAPOS).

Results: The response rate was 15% (132 surveys). The median pediatric ophthalmologist is consulted 10.0 (interquartile range [IQR] = 4.0 to 19.0) times per year to evaluate patients for abusive head trauma and sees 2.5 (IQR = 1.0 to 6.0) patients with probable abusive head trauma each year. Pediatric ophthalmologists were equally likely to be subpoenaed (4.6% vs 4.8%, P = .84) or to testify (1.9% vs 1.7%, P = .79) whether they did or did not perform retinal photography. Physicians were equally likely to be subpoenaed (4.8% vs 7.1%, P = .92) or to testify (2.2% vs 0.0%, P = .17) whether a child abuse team was involved in patient care or not. Geographic location had no statistical significance on how frequently pediatric ophthalmologists were subpoenaed (P = .17) or testified in court (P = .12). When a pediatric ophthalmologist was subpoenaed to court, the median number of missed clinic days was 1.0 (IQR = 1.0 to 2.0), with an estimated cost of $3,000 (IQR = $1,750 to $4,750) in lost revenue.

Conclusions: Obtaining retinal imaging, having a child abuse team, and geographic location had no significant relationship with how often pediatric ophthalmologists were subpoenaed or testified in court.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child Abuse*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / diagnosis
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / economics
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jurisprudence
  • Liability, Legal / economics
  • Ophthalmology / statistics & numerical data
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome / economics
  • Shaken Baby Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology