New guidance has been published to help imaging departments investigate cases of suspected child abuse.
The Radiological Investigation of Physical Abuse in Children has been jointly produced by The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) and the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR), with input and endorsement from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).
It revamps initial guidance from 2008 and incorporates new evidence on child imaging techniques and follow-up protocols, as well as a series of new procedural templates to help radiologists, radiographers and referring paediatricians.
Nottingham-based consultant radiologist Dr Kath Halliday headed up the working party behind the new document. She said, "This is a step-by-step toolkit highlighting best practice in what is a hugely important but difficult area of imaging investigation.
“It has been created both to protect children at potential risk and to protect and reassure imaging staff that they are following best practice guidelines.”
The guidance details training requirements for imaging staff and the specific radiographs and timeframes needed for initial and follow-up skeletal surveys. Advice regarding sedation and use of CT scanning for the detection of rib fractures is also included.
Optimal neurological imaging and timeframes are covered, as well as post mortem imaging.
The document also features template information leaflets on procedure and consent for families and carers and an audit form to help departments routinely follow the guidance.
Dr Halliday added: “The guidance will raise standards for children and empower hospital staff to ensure children are imaged in the best way possible. I urge all imaging clinicians to be aware of the new guidance because it should make what is a difficult and sensitive process less traumatic for families and staff.”
Sue Johnson, professional officer at SCoR, said: “This work demonstrates the power of pooling expert knowledge and sharing experience across professional areas. We have produced a document with the potential to make a real difference to children and families involved in these challenging investigations.
“The SCoR stands with the RCR in encouraging all relevant services to adopt the guidelines, ensuring all affected families will receive best practice care at a very difficult time.”
Geoff Debelle, child protection officer at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said, “It is with a great sense of pride and ownership that RCPCH endorse these guidelines that will ensure best practice in imaging children suspected of having inflicted injury and will enhance our ability to protect them.”