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J Forensic Leg Med. 2017 Feb;46:37-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jflm.2016.12.006. Epub 2016 Dec 23.

Evaluation of forensic medical history taking from the child in cases of child physical and sexual abuse and neglect.

Author information

1
Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne and Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. Electronic address: racheldrummond91@gmail.com.
2
Department of Paediatrics, The University of Melbourne and Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. Electronic address: johngall@bigpond.com.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Suspected child physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect are not uncommon presentations. As part of the assessment of these cases, a forensic medical history may be taken. This forensic history is used not only to determine the steps necessary to address the child's wellbeing but also to direct the forensic examination. Currently, there is no clear consensus on whether or not a forensic medical history should consistently be considered an integral element within the paediatric forensic evaluation. This study examines the value derived by the medical practitioner taking a forensic medical history rather than relying on hearsay evidence when a child presents for an assessment.

METHODS:

A retrospective review of paediatric cases seen by the Victorian Forensic Paediatric Medical Service (VFPMS) between 2014 and 2015 was undertaken. 274 forensic case reports were reviewed and the data was entered into an Excel spread sheet and analysed using chi squared tests within STATA®.

RESULTS:

With increasing age of the child, a forensic medical history is significantly more likely to be taken. Additional information is made available to the medical practitioner what would otherwise have been provided if the medical practitioner relied only on the interview conducted by the police. Discrepancies observed between the official third parties (police or child protection) report of what a child has said and what the child says to the medical practitioner decrease with age, as do discrepancies observed between the child's version of events and a third party's (eg. parents, caregivers, friends) version of events.

CONCLUSIONS:

The study showed that by taking a forensic medical history from the child additional information can be obtained. Further, that there is a value in the examining medical practitioner taking a forensic medical history from children in cases of child physical and sexual abuse and neglect.

KEYWORDS:

Child abuse; Forensic medical history; History taking; Maltreatment; Neglect; Paediatric forensic evaluation; Physical abuse; Physical assault; Sexual abuse; Sexual assault

PMID:
28122285
DOI:
10.1016/j.jflm.2016.12.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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