Resident documentation of diagnostic impression in sexual abuse evaluations

Juan M. Parra, Rebecca L. Huston, D. Michael Foulds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In sexual abuse evaluations, the documentation of the examiner's diagnostic impression is essential. If the diagnostic impression is not documented, the examiner will have to rely on memory rather than the medical record when called to testify. The purpose of this study was to determine whether pediatric residents adequately document their diagnostic impression in child sexual abuse evaluations. We performed a three-year retrospective chart review from patients 0-17 years of age who were evaluated at our emergency room for suspected sexual abuse. We reviewed 1,487 charts for historical information, physical findings, and diagnostic impression. Physical findings were categorized as normal, nonspecific, suggestive, or indicative of penetration. In 77% of cases (N=256) with hymenal findings indicative of penetration and 84% of cases (N=31) with vaginal findings indicative of penetration, residents recorded no impression or a nonspecific impression. Results were similar for vulvar and rectal findings indicative of penetration. Residents fail to document an adequate interpretation of their physical examinations in sexual abuse evaluations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-694
Number of pages4
JournalClinical Pediatrics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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