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Detecting child abuse based on parental characteristics: Does The Hague Protocol cause parents to avoid the Emergency Department?

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Author: Diderich, H.M. · Fekkes, M. · Dechesne, M. · Buitendijk, S.E. · Oudesluys-Murphy, A.M.
Source:International Emergency Nursing, 2, 23, 203-206
Identifier: 524741
doi: doi:10.1016/j.ienj.2014.09.004
Keywords: Health · Avoiding medical care · Child abuse · Detecting child abuse · Parental characteristics · Healthy for Life · Healthy Living · Life · CH - Child Health · ELSS - Earth, Life and Social Sciences


Objectives: The Hague Protocol is used by professionals at the adult Emergency Departments (ED) in The Netherlands to detect child abuse based on three parental characteristics: (1) domestic violence, (2) substance abuse or (3) suicide attempt or self-harm. After detection, a referral is made to the Reporting Center for Child Abuse and Neglect (RCCAN). This study investigates whether implementing this Protocol will lead parents to avoid medical care. Method: We compared the number of patients (for whom the Protocol applied) who attended the ED prior to implementation with those attending after implementation. We conducted telephone interviews (n = 14) with parents whose children were referred to the RCCAN to investigate their experience with the procedure. Results: We found no decline in the number of patients, included in the Protocol, visiting the ED during the 4 year implementation period (2008-2011). Most parents (n = 10 of the 14 interviewed) were positive and stated that they would, if necessary, re-attend the ED with the same complaints in the future. Conclusion: ED nurses and doctors referring children based on parental characteristics do not have to fear losing these families as patients. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.