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Research Letter
November 4, 2019

Emergency Department Admissions for Child Sexual Abuse in the United States From 2010 to 2016

Author Affiliations
  • 1School of Social Work, College of Public Health and Social Justice, St Louis University, St Louis, Missouri
  • 2School of Social Work, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan
  • 3School of Social Work and Children and Family Research Center, University of Illinois, Urbana
JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(1):89-91. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.3988

For children who have been sexually abused, emergency department (ED) professionals provide immediate medical care, including testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, prophylaxis for potential HIV exposure, and emergency contraception.1 In some cases, ED clinicians conduct forensic examinations to assist with child protection and criminal investigations.2 Physicians and nurses in EDs are among the first to recognize the signs of sexual abuse and identify patients who are currently being abused, such as children being exploited in sex trafficking.3 Despite the medical, criminal justice, and protective roles that ED professionals serve in caring for vulnerable children, few data are available regarding the frequency with which children are admitted to the ED for sexual abuse. Therefore, this analysis observed patterns among children admitted to the ED for sexual abuse across the United States and examined important subgroup characteristics based on demographic and primary payer data.

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