Implementation of a comprehensive program to improve child physical abuse screening and detection in the emergency department

J Emerg Nurs

Introduction: Children often present to the emergency department for treatment of abuse-related injuries. ED providers-including emergency nurses-do not consistently screen children for abuse, which may allow abuse to go undetected and increases the risk for reinjury and death. ED providers frequently cite lack of knowledge or confidence in screening for and detecting child abuse. The purpose of this quality improvement project was to implement an evidence-based screening program that included provider education on child physical abuse, a systematic screening protocol, and use of the validated Escape Instrument.

Methods: A pre-test/post-test design was used to measure the effect of a 20-minute educational session on ED provider knowledge and confidence in screening for and recognizing child physical abuse. Diagnostic codes for child physical abuse were analyzed for a 30-day period before and after implementation of the screening protocol. A final survey was administered 4 months after project implementation to evaluate the impact of the screening program.

Results: There were significant increases in provider knowledge and confidence scores for child physical abuse screening and recognition (P < .001). There was no difference in providers' diagnostic coding of child physical abuse. The educational session and Escape Instrument were the most reported screening facilitators, and transition to a new electronic health system was the most reported barrier.

Discussion: The results of this project support comprehensive screening programs to improve ED provider knowledge and confidence in screening for and recognizing child physical abuse. Future research should focus on the impact of screening on the diagnosis and treatment of child physical abuse.

Carson SM. Implementation of a comprehensive program to improve child physical abuse screening and detection in the emergency department. J Emerg Nurs. 2018 Nov;44(6):576-581. PMID: 29779624. DOI: 10.1016/j.jen.2018.04.003.

Publication Year: 
2018
Study Design: 
Pre-post without Comparison Group
Social Determinant of Health: 
Violence/Safety
Outcomes: 
Process
Provider Experience of Care
Screening Research: 
Yes
Keywords: