OBJECTIVES: Medical neglect can have serious consequences. There is little evidence base to guide medical neglect management and research. Our objective was to describe a group of children reported to child protective services (CPS) for medical neglect to define this population as well as identify prevention and intervention approaches.
METHODS: This was a retrospective descriptive study of all patients at a pediatric hospital reported to CPS for medical neglect over a 6-year period. Data about health, health care, CPS involvement, and social history were obtained through medical record review.
RESULTS: Of the 154 patients reported for medical neglect, 140 (91%) had chronic illness. The most common diagnoses were type 1 diabetes, organ transplantation, and prematurity-related conditions. Most patients (83%) were black or Hispanic and 90% were publically insured. More than half of patients (54%) had >1 CPS report during the study period. Almost all patients (88%) returned to the hospital for care subsequent to the medical neglect report. Risk factors for child maltreatment, family stressors in the year preceding the report, and practical barriers to care were documented in more than two-thirds of patients.
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, children reported for medical neglect have serious chronic medical conditions. There is need and opportunity for improved interventions. Avenues for future study include interventions tailored to the underlying diagnosis, racial/ethnic disparities, effectiveness of CPS interventions, and targeted prevention for at-risk families with medically complex children.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health