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February 1, 1980

Inflicted Burns in Children— Forensic Recognition and Resolution

JAMA. 1980;243(5):433. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03300310021014

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To the Editor.—  The discovery by Hight et al (242:517, 1979), that 9% of the children treated at the Children's Hospital of Michigan had burns caused through felonious human assault, is no surprise to those physicians trained in forensic medicine. Our problem is to convince people in pediatric hospitals that the cases of children who die in their burn centers should be reported to the local forensic authorities and that formal medicolegal investigations be initiated.The fact is that the burned child is often denied his civil rights by those in charge of pediatric burn units. Their excuses include (1) the need for local in-house autopsy for proper surveillance of infection, (2) the loss of parental accord with the treating physician from the calling of the police authority into the case, (3) the lack of interest by hospital medical authorities because of the nihilistic view that even with an investigation nothing