Medical Necessity for the Hospitalization of the Abused and Neglected Child

The family physician has a moral, ethical, and legal obligation to diagnose, treat, and protect a child suspected of being abused and/or neglected. The child requires a prompt evaluation in a protective environment where knowledgeable consultants are readily available. In communities without specialized services and/or facilities for the management of such children, inpatient hospitalization is an appropriate setting for their initial management. Medical, psychosocial and legal concerns may be assessed expeditiously while the child is housed in a safe environment awaiting final disposition by child protective services. The AAFP recommends that the hospitalization of children suspected of or being abused and/or neglected should be viewed as medically necessary by both health professionals and third-party payors. Financial concerns must not impede medical judgment, and third party payers have an ethical responsibility to cover such admissions. (1998) (2012 COD)