A System-Wide Hospital Child Maltreatment Patient Safety Program.

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DOI: 10.1542/peds.2021-050555


Background and objectives: Hospital-wide patient safety programs have been used to ensure appropriate provision of care. Similar approaches have not been widely applied to child maltreatment. In this study, we describe a hospital-system child maltreatment safety program by characterizing the frequency of patients needing further intervention, associations between the age of patient and location of care and need for further intervention, and patients who require immediate intervention.

Methods: For all staff concerns for child maltreatment, a social worker completed a patient at risk (PAR) form. All PAR forms were reviewed within 24 hours by the child abuse team and categorized on the basis of 6 types of interventions, most significantly an "immediate callback." Wilcoxon rank and χ2 tests were used for group comparisons.

Results: Over a 30-month period, program interventions occurred in 2061 of 7698 PARs (26.8%). The most common reason for a PAR form was physical abuse (32.5%). Subjects requiring an intervention were no different in age than those who did not (median age: 5.6 vs 5.2 years). PAR forms performed in the emergency departments or urgent care were more likely to require an intervention than inpatient (odds ratio: 4.4; 95% confidence interval 3.6-5.3) or clinic (odds ratio: 2.0; 95% confidence interval 1.7-2.3) PAR forms. Of the 53 immediate callbacks, potential diagnostic errors and safe discharge concerns occurred in nearly one-half, and >40% involved subjects with bruising. Immediate follow-up in the child abuse pediatrician clinic occurred in 87% (46 of 53) of cases, resulting in a new or changed diagnosis in 57% of such cases.

Conclusions: A child maltreatment safety program encompassing a health system can identify and address medical errors.

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