U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Evaluation and Referral for Child Maltreatment in Pediatric Poisoning Victims

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 36 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2012 Pages: 362-369
Joanne N. Wood; Lydia H. Pecker; Michael E. Russo; Fred Henretig; Cindy W. Christian
Date Published
April 2012
8 pages
This study explored the degree to which young poisoning victims were evaluated for child maltreatment by hospital staff and referred to Child Protective Services.
The study findings include the following: of the 928 poisonings reported in the hospital, 41 percent were from household products, 20 percent were from over-the-counter drugs, 7 percent were from prescription narcotics/sedatives, 29 percent were from other prescription drugs, and less than 1 percent were from ethanol, illicit drugs, or other substances; 69 percent of the children were stable while 3 percent were critically ill at the time of admission; and 13 percent were evaluated by hospital staff for child maltreatment at time of admission, and 4 percent were referred to Child Protective Services (CPS). The primary purpose of the study was to determine the extent to which young poisoning victims are evaluated for child maltreatment by hospital staff and referred to CPS. Data for the study were obtained from a sample of poisoning victims under 6 years of age who were seen at an urban children's hospital between 2006 and 2008. The data was analyzed using logistic regression to determine the association between evaluation for child maltreatment and referral to CPS, and whether any factors played a role in the referrals. The findings indicate that the higher the clinical severity of poisoning, the more likely the case was referred to CPS. In addition, all cases involving poisoning from illicit drugs were referred to CPS, while the majority of cases involving poor supervision or multiple forms of maltreatment were also referred to CPS. These findings suggest the need for identifying factors that place young children at risk from maltreatment as a result of poisoning. Implications for policy are discussed. Tables and references