How is a child with physical abuse injuries treated?

Updated: Apr 24, 2017
  • Author: Angelo P Giardino, MD, MPH, PhD; Chief Editor: Caroly Pataki, MD  more...
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Answer

Treatment for physical abuse is a complex endeavor involving an interdisciplinary team approach. The nature of the injury determines the form of medical therapy, as follows:

  • Skeletal fractures of the long bones may require casting; orthopedics should be consulted

  • Burns vary in severity, and treatments range from cleansing the area to skin grafting; plastic surgery should be consulted for more serious burns; transfer to a burn unit may be indicated

  • The most severely injured children, such as those with CNS injury, may require resuscitation and will need intensive care; a multitude of specialists may need to be involved

  • Whenever abusive head trauma is suspected, ophthalmology should be consulted for a formal evaluation, including examination of the eyes for retinal hemorrhages.

Psychosocial management that requires a significant amount of coordination among various services providers, including the physician and other health care providers, complements the medical management. The details of the caregiving environment determine the psychosocial supports needed to keep the child safe.

See Treatment and Medication for more detail.


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