Western Australian emergency department presentations related to child maltreatment and intentional injury: Population level study utilising linked health and child protection data
Article first published online: 12 OCT 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health © 2011 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (Royal Australasian College of Physicians)
Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Volume 48, Issue 1, pages 57–65, January 2012
How to Cite
O'Donnell, M., Nassar, N., Jacoby, P. and Stanley, F. (2012), Western Australian emergency department presentations related to child maltreatment and intentional injury: Population level study utilising linked health and child protection data. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 48: 57–65. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1754.2011.02189.x
- Issue published online: 18 JAN 2012
- Article first published online: 12 OCT 2011
- Accepted for publication 8 March 2005.
- child maltreatment;
- data linkage;
- emergency department
Aim: The aim of this study is to determine the proportion of child maltreatment-related emergency department (ED) presentations in Western Australia (WA) and describe the type of injuries associated with them. It is also to investigate the proportion of maltreatment-related ED presentations resulting in hospitalisation, the proportion referred to the Department for Child Protection and their outcomes.
Methods: This is a retrospective cohort study of all children aged 0–17 years residing in WA from 2001 to 2005 who had an ED presentation recorded in the ED Data Collection. This study used de-identified administrative data linked across the Departments of Health and Child Protection.
Results: Only 0.03% of ED presentations were identified as maltreatment related and 0.2% for all intentional injury presentations. One in five children with maltreatment-related ED presentations was admitted to hospital and a similar proportion had a notification to Department for Child Protection and 87% of these subsequently substantiated.
Conclusions: This study showed that there are limitations with ED data for child maltreatment surveillance in WA and raises concerns that there may be missed opportunities for identifying maltreatment and for referring families for further assessment and support. Recommendations are provided to improve maltreatment surveillance and ED data, particularly for the identification of external causes of injury.