When concerns of child abuse are present, a child may receive a medical exam at St Anthony Summit Medical Center. This exam is provided by a nurse practitioner with specialized training in child abuse exams.
Medical exams are important for a number of reasons:
- To document any physical evidence;
- To document the child’s statement to a medical professional;
- To diagnose and treat any health problems related to the abuse including injuries or infections;
- To reassure the child and parent that the child’s body is safe and healthy.
A medical exam begins with a one-on-one conversation with the child’s parent/guardian, in which the nurse collects information and answers questions before the exam. The nurse then meets with the child to conduct a head-to-toe physical examination, which may include photo documentation.
This exam is very different from a standard visit to a primary care physician. The child medical exam closely resembles a well-child exam, with the added use of a special light and camera to take a look at areas that may have been injured at the time of the abuse. The exam does not hurt—we strive to make the exam a positive and healing experience for the child and family. Children are in control of their exam, and we encourage the child to feel empowered to make their own decisions.