Governor Steve Beshear today signed House Bill 157, which requires the State Board of Medical Licensure to provide training to enhance the recognition and prevention of pediatric abusive head trauma for physicians who frequently interact with young children and infants in need of medical attention.
"Pediatricians, radiologists, family practitioners, emergency medicine and urgent care physicians frequently interact with children who require routine or emergency medical care," said Gov. Beshear. "There have been cases of child fatalities or near fatalities resulting from child abuse that might have been avoided if the attending physician had been specifically trained to recognize the signs of abuse and referred the case to child protective services."
Kentucky data indicates that physical abuse of young children is the most lethal form of child maltreatment. From Fiscal Year 2009 to the present, there have been more than 100 children with life-threatening or fatal injuries resulting from abusive head trauma.
A law passed in 2010 required similar training requirements for other child-serving or child-focused professionals and caregivers. HB 157 provides comparable training for physicians.
"As a mother, grandmother, registered nurse and legislator, I'm committed to protecting Kentucky's greatest asset, our children," said Rep. Addia Wuchner, of Florence. "As the sponsor of HB 157 and HB 285 in 2010, both passed with broad bipartisan support in the House and Senate, and I firmly believe this complement of legislation will help turn the tide on child abuse and save the lives of children in our Commonwealth."
Kentucky Department for Community Based Services Commissioner Teresa James said the training will enhance the partnership between the medical community and state social services staff.
"Physicians play an important role in recognizing child abuse or neglect," James said. "This continuing education component will help them better identify pediatric head trauma and will strengthen their confidence to make a report."