Recognition of child maltreatment in emergency departments in Europe: Should we do better?

F Hoedeman, Patrycja Puiman, AW Smits, MI Dekker, H Diderich-Lolkesde Beer, S Laribi, D Lauwaert, Rianne Oostenbrink, N Parri, L Garcia-Castrillo Riesgo, Henriette Moll

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Objectives To evaluate the different policies to recognize child maltreatment in emergency departments (EDs) in Europe in order to define areas of improvement. Methods A survey was conducted on the recognition of child maltreatment in EDs in European countries with a focus on screening methods, parental risk factors, training and hospital policies. The survey was distributed through different key members from the EUSEM, REPEM and the EuSEN. A summary score based on the NICE guideline (4 questions on child characteristics, 4 questions on parental characteristics and 5 questions on hospital policy) was calculated. Results We analysed 185 completed surveys, representing 148 hospitals from 29 European countries. Of the respondents, 28.6% used a screening tool, and 31.8% had guidelines on parental risk factors. A total of 42.2% did not follow training based on child characteristics, and 57.6% did not follow training on parental characteristics. A total of 71.9% indicated that there was a need for training. 50.8% of the respondents reported a standardized policy for the detection of child maltreatment. Translating the survey results to NICE summary scores of the EDs in Europe, we found that 25.6% (34/133) met most, 22.6% (30/133) met some and 51.9% (69/133) met few of the NICE guideline recommendations. More specifically, with respect to hospital policies, 33.8% (45/133) met most, 15.0% (20/133) met some and 51.1% (68/133) met few of the NICE guideline recommendations. Conclusion There is high variability regarding policies for child maltreatment detection and only a quarter of the EDs met most of the NICE guideline recommendations for child maltreatment. There is a need for the use of screening tools, training of ED staff and implementation of local hospital policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0246361
JournalPLoS One (print)
Issue number2 February
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2021


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