OHSU Pediatrician Working to Help Combat Child Abuse

09/21/99    Portland, Ore.

Child abuse is not always recognizable. It soon will be if emergency physician Beverly Bauman has her way. Her efforts at educating health care professionals in Clatsop County to recognize and report alleged child abuse are starting to pay off.

"Not every kid who comes into the emergency ward with some bumps and bruises is victim of child abuse, but some children come into emergency wards with bruises that are clearly not accidental," said Beverly Bauman, M.D., FAAP, assistant chief of pediatric emergency services, Oregon Health Sciences University.

The Lighthouse, a Clatsop County child abuse assessment center based in Astoria, began operation in May of this year and is one of the facilities utilizing Bauman's expertise. On September 20, Bauman and Georgina Yokohama, The Lighthouse coordinator, expanded their training efforts to include physicians and staff from Seaside Providence Hospital and Seaside Providence North Coast Clinic . Bauman and Yokoyama conducted a day-long seminar with emergency room staff and physicians at the Seaside hospital.

Medical personnel at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, the first recipients of Bauman's training program, are grateful to have proven child abuse evaluative information. The training has vastly improved the communication and reporting procedures, according to Deanna Hogan a spokesperson for Columbia Memorial Hospital.

"She is able to do for us what we as a program cannot do, due to our newness and lack of expertise," said Yokoyama.

Social service intervention is among the issues hospital personnel need to become more educated. "Physicians and nurses are reluctant to recognize child abuse issues because of potential dealings with the legal system," said Bauman.

Bauman has helped developed an ER (Emergency Room) Folder to be used as an aid in child sexual assault exams. The ER Folder has procedures for nurses, instruction on evidence gathering, x-rays needed, lab tests to order and specific legal approaches to take in dealing with issues surrounding alleged child abuse.

In addition to working with The Lighthouse, Bauman is involved with Cares Northwest, a collaborative effort of pediatricians, pediatric nurse practitioners, interviewers and medical health practitioners fighting child abuse by establishing evaluation procedures for sexual and physical abuse of children. The medical evaluation personnel are from OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Kaiser Permanente and Legacy Emanuel Hospital.