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TRIAGE: Overview

This section offers guidance regarding how to triage a child or adolescent with concerns for abuse or neglect. All staff in the primary care and Emergency Department settings should be proficient in the triage of these challenging situations. Clear and concrete information will afford the practitioner the ability to make decisions regarding when the child/adolescent should be seen and whether to make a report to Child Protective Services. The goal is to minimize interviewing and examining the child/adolescent while maximizing medical, legal, and protective outcomes.

A child/adolescent needs an examination when:

  • There is any suspicion of abuse
  • There is a suspicion of sexual abuse, even if it is sexual play
  • There are physical signs and symptoms of genitourinary problems
  • There is a history of pain, injury, or possible trauma
  • The child/adolescent and family need reassurance


Key Concepts
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Triage Steps

  • Gather and document pertinent information
  • Determine the safety and welfare of the child/adolescent
  • Determine who should examine the child/adolescent and when
  • Determine if you are mandated to report this situation
Appropriate Level of Care
  • Emergent evaluation
  • Urgent evaluation
  • Evaluation scheduled for a later date
Referral to a Child Abuse Expert

Additional Resources

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Triage: Overview  Triage: Steps  Triage: Appropriate Level of Care 
Triage: Referral to a Child Abuse Expert  Triage: Additional Resources

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