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The role of the doctor has been crystallized by the Children Act - the welfare of the child is paramount.
All hospitals in the UK have protocols for dealing with abuse; the doctor should follow these. However, principles include:
- a high index of suspicion
- clear, detailed documentation in the notes
- early involvement of senior medical staff, social workers and the police.
- arranging and checking up on appropriate investigations
- avoidance of accusation and cross-examination. As a general rule, doctors are trained to believe people, and are thus not the right people to attempt to elicit the truth from resistant sources. The best interests of the child are served by engaging the parent and remaining engaged. Protection and treatment of the child becomes difficult if there is parental resistance.
- recognition that it may be normal and appropriate for a doctor to have an emotional reaction to unpleasant events, and that it is entirely reasonable to ask for support if these reactions are causing distress.
Last reviewed 01/2018