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Screening methods to detect child maltreatment: high variability in Dutch emergency departments
  1. Eva M M Hoytema van Konijnenburg1,
  2. Arianne H Teeuw1,
  3. Sophie A Zwaard2,
  4. Johanna H van der Lee3,
  5. Rick R van Rijn4
  1. 1Department of Social Paediatrics, Emma Children's Hospital, Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  3. 3Woman-Child Center, Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  4. 4Department of Radiology, Emma Children's Hospital, Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Eva M M Hoytema van Konijnenburg, Department of Pediatrics, Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Room K01-138, Meibergdreef 9, Amsterdam 1105 AZ, The Netherlands; eva.hoytema{at}


Background In the Netherlands, screening for child maltreatment is mandatory in all emergency departments but it is unclear which screening methods are being used. As a first step towards implementation of a universal screening method across all emergency departments, we assessed the currently used screening methods.

Objective To provide an overview of the screening methods for child maltreatment across all emergency departments in the Netherlands and to assess their empirical substantiation.

Methods We surveyed all emergency departments in the Netherlands using a questionnaire on screening methods. All screening checklists used in emergency departments were assembled and compared with the literature.

Results 85 hospitals with an emergency department were approached, 80 of which completed the questionnaire and 77 provided copies of their screening checklists. All participating hospitals use a screening checklist, 41% a screening physical examination, 60% a screening based on parental risk factors and 3% a retrospective review of all charts. The empirical substantiation for these screening methods is largely lacking, and at least 73% of the hospitals use a checklist that has not been reported in the literature.

Conclusions Large variations in screening methods exist across emergency departments in the Netherlands, most of which are not based on empirical evidence.

  • Paediatrics, non accidental injury
  • Violence, domestic

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