Families deserve accurate guidelines for the diagnosis of child abuse
Every year, doctors accuse hundreds to thousands of innocent parents and caretakers of abusing children, based on flawed historical guidelines for reaching a diagnosis of abuse. The consequences range from the removal of children from loving homes to life in prison, even death, for the wrongly accused. No one is immune: the defendants include doctors, police officers, social workers, psychologists, daycare providers, and others who have devoted their lives to children. Some of the children were sick; others collapsed suddenly. Some had medical disorders; others had falls or other accidents. Some died; others are fine. The only common theme is that the caretaker and witness accounts were ignored in favor of unproven medical hypotheses. Not infrequently, a hasty diagnosis of abuse derails the search for the true cause of a child's symptoms, denying some children the medical care they need. For information on the medical issues and a sampling of cases, please see http://bit.ly/ProtectingInnocentFamilies.

To stop this injustice, we are calling for a rigorous scientific evaluation of the evidence base for the medical diagnosis of child abuse, to be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences or a blue ribbon panel of impartial experts. The scope of the review should include shaken baby syndrome (abusive head trauma) and the evaluation of fractures and bony abnormalities often misidentified as fractures.

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