The Case of Abuse and Health Information

Recent cases of child abuse in our community have struck a nerve with many. Most would agree that the idea of parents starving and murdering their own kids is incomprehensible. In this nation, there are over 4 deaths per day from child abuse with the most prominent form of child abuse being neglect. Eighty Percent of those who die from abuse are under the age of 4 years old and most of these deaths are not recorded as abuse on the death certificate. Unfortunately, in most cases the perpetrator is a parent.

There are many education and training programs out in the field that are helping abusers and the abused. Much help is needed not only with the abuse of children but for other forms of abuse such as spousal abuse and elderly abuse. Oh yes, there are abuses of every kind. It is amazing how depraved the human mind can get. In many cases, poverty along with mental and physical disabilities are associated risk factors. Somehow people get so angry and deranged that they have to take it out on someone including little children. You may have heard these stories that sometimes look and read like a horror movie.

Although state agencies are overwhelmed and DFACs is always in the spotlight, there should be some hope. Health Information Technology (HIT) and the exchange of health information is poised to provide central repositories of relevant abuse information that may be valuable to prevention and treatment once the information is properly shared. Doctors, schools and law officials should then know those episodes when a child with a new broken bone shows up in the hospital with a parent who has a history of abuse. That would be valuable.

There is a great deal of work to be done in this arena. Once the abuse is identified there is still a difficult role ahead for both the abused and the abuser. You may not believe it but some abusers actually get rehabilitated, but as we know in many cases the abuse does not stop. Statistics show that 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children.

We must make an effort to stop all forms of abuse. First we have to look at ourselves, our families and our environments to make sure we prevent, stop and report abuse or seek help if you are an abuser. Then we must support and enable coordination through connecting Information Technology systems that may help save lives.

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