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Forensic Medical Exams

The forensic evaluation contains two parts: the forensic interview and the forensic medical exam. Medical exams are highly recommended for all patients, as it offers families a chance to speak with a specialized medical professional about the health and well-being of their child. The exam allows the physician to visually examine the child and look for signs of abuse and/or neglect. This is not a gynecological exam and is child-friendly and non-threatening for the child. The parent or caregiver may be present in the room during the medical exam if the child wishes. 

the importance of the medical exam

ACP’s main goals during the forensic medical exam are to:

  • Assess the health and safety with a complete history and exam

  • Assess physical findings; children often do not fully disclose during the forensic interview what occurred 

  • Recommend follow-up exam, labs, and treatment, if necessary

  • Provide education for the child and/or caregiver

How do I prepare my child?

- Tell them that the medical exam is to ensure that their body is healthy 

- They are allowed to ask questions -- our medical staff will be happy to answer

- You or a trusted adult will be able to be with them during the exam

- It will not hurt and there are no shots or needles during the exam

- They are in charge of their body, and nothing will be done that they don’t want

- Health information cannot be shared without a release of information

Will the exam traumatize my child?

Both the forensic interview and medical exam are designed to refrain from further traumatizing the child. Our pediatricians and nurses are skilled in relaxation techniques, and considerable time is spent building rapport with every child. The medical exam is conducted in a room decorated with a jungle mural, and children are encouraged to play the “Can You Find” game, which often relaxes and puts them at ease during the consultation. 

What does it mean if there are no findings?

It is common for forensic medical exams to be normal. Only rarely are there physical findings in cases of child abuse. However, this does not mean abuse did not occur. Primarily, a child needs to be reassured that they are normal and are not “damaged goods.” Secondly, the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases can only be determined by cultures obtained during a medical exam. 

Who can access the medical record for this exam?

Records are stored at A Child’s Place, PA. Medical information release forms are prepared on the day of the forensic interview. Medical information releases may be signed for law enforcement, Children and Youth Services (CYF), the parent or legal guardian, and any medical facility where the child receives ongoing care.

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