- Child abuse is the physical and mental injury, sexual abuse, negligent treatment, and/or maltreatment of a child under the age of 18 by a person who is responsible for the child’s welfare.
- Elderly abuse includes physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, negligent treatment, and/or maltreatment
- A Vulnerable adult is anyone aged 18 and over with a condition that significantly limits their ability to perform their own activities of daily living. This condition may be mental, physical, or cognitive. It also includes adults who cannot provide their own protection.
- The recognition of abuse and the proper reporting is a critical step to improving the safety of children and preventing child abuse.
Assessment of a child abuse case is based upon the following principles:
- Protect the life of the child from harm, and the EMS team from liability.
- Suspect that the child may be a victim of abuse, especially if the injury/illness is not consistent with the reported history.
- Respect the privacy of the child and family.
- Collect as much evidence as possible, especially information.
- Documentation is critical. Reports should be detailed and objective. Include quotations and any conflicting stores. Include a complete physical exam, description of the home environment.
- Assess for and extensively document physical signs of abuse, particularly, any injuries that are inconsistent with the reported mechanism of injury.
- Assess for and document signs and symptoms of neglect, including inappropriate level of clothing for the weather, inadequate hygiene, absence of attentive caregiver(s), or physical signs of malnutrition.
- EMS providers are considered mandatory reporters of suspected child, vulnerable adult, and elderly abuse. South Carolina law requires the EMS provider to immediately report any suspicious findings to both the receiving hospital and to the Greenville County Department of Social Services (DSS) intake phone number at 864-467-7750. Report should be completed on a recorded line and documented on the patient care report (PCR).
- While law enforcement may also be notified, EMS should not accuse or challenge the suspected abuser. In the event of a child fatality, law enforcement must also be notified. Consider the involvement of a supervisor or law enforcement early if caregivers refuse hospital transport.