All 50 states mandate that healthcare professionals report cases of suspected child abuse. Laws in each state provide protection to the healthcare professional in the event that a suspected case of abuse turns out not to be abuse (false positive). The laws grant the healthcare professional the latitude to collect any evidence necessary to document the suspected abusive episode without the consent of the parent or caregiver. Examples of evidence that may be collected would include the following:
If a healthcare professional believes that the child has been abused, Child Protective Services (CPS) must be contacted and the suspected abuse reported. The role of CPS and the reporting healthcare professional is not punitive toward the abusive aggressor; rather it is to remove the child from the abusive environment to stop the abuse and possibly prevent the child’s death from future abuse. After the case is processed through proper legal channels, the disposition and future care of the child is ultimately determined.
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