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Ohio Children's Hospitals Working To Identify Child Abuse Sooner


Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is working with the state's hospital to expand a collaboration intended to reduce repeat incidents of child abuse in infants.

The Timely Recognition of Abusive Injuries Collaborative, a partnership with the Ohio Hospital Association, hopes to prevent repeat child abuse in babies up to six months old. The partnership also wants to increase the recognition of sentinel injuries, which are minor injuries that should tip off a medical provider that a child is being abused.

“Before we started this work, we recognized that 1.5 percent of children with a sentinel injury came back within a year with a second injury,” said Dr. Jonathon Thackeray, Chief Medical Community Health Officer at Dayton Children's Hospital. “Today we can tell you we've quadrupled that identification rate. We're now recognizing that over 6 percent of infants with sentinel injury are returning with a second injury.”

Thackeray says abuse is not increasing in Ohio, but rather than medical providers are getting better at identifying it.

“We've increased our identification of sentinel injuries from 60 per month in our baseline year to 90 per month,” Thackeray says. “That's an increase of 50 percent across the state.”

In 2016, member hospitals collaborated to create a “bundle” within hospitals that details necessary physical examination and follow-up after identifying a sentinel injury. Now, the project is spreading abuse recognition education to eight pediatric practices in Ohio.

“In so many of these cases of child abuse, when you went back and tried to recreate the history, what you found is there were indicators of child abuse that were not noticed,” DeWine says. “It has been my dream for many years to see a much closer working relationship with children's hospitals. I think this can be great benefit first of all to the children and second of all to the parents and family members."

DeWine funded the project with a $1 million grant from settlement funds to Ohio Children’s Hospital Assocation in 2015.

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Adora Namigadde