My Child Has a Medical Exam
Why does my child need an exam?
Medical exams are used to:
- Identify, document, and interpret any findings or injuries
- Diagnose and treat STDs
- Obtain a history from the child
- Assess mental health and refer for counseling if needed
It is important to note that medical exams cannot tell what caused an injury, when an injury has occurred, how many times abuse occurred, or who committed the abuse.
What happens during the medical exam?
The doctor meets privately with the parent or guardian to go over past history and recent history while the nurse brings the child to the exam room to check height, weight, temperature, and blood pressure. The nurse explains (age appropriately) the exam. A mental health professional then meets with the child or observes interaction as part of the mental health assessment. The doctor then meets with the child while the mental health professional meets with the parent(s) or guardian(s).
During the exam, specimens are collected to test for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and a genital exam is performed. After the exam, the doctor explains the exam results to the child and parent in an age appropriate manner.
What should I bring to the medical exam?
- Please bring your child’s Social Security number, medical card, or private insurance card. You will not be billed for any of the services received at the CAC. If you have any questions about this, please call the CAC for more information.
- If you have a small child, it may be helpful to have another adult who can watch the child during while you speak privately to the doctor.
- If your child has already received an examination relating to sexual abuse, please bring medical records or the name of the facility and the date seen
Why are most exams normal?
Many types of sexual abuse that occur are not likely to be physically damaging. Also, disclosures may be weeks if not years after contact, giving time for any injuries to heal.
My child already had a medical exam in the emergency room, why should he/she have another one at the Children’s Advocacy Center?
The physician, nurse, and licensed clinical social worker at the CAC are specially trained in child sexual abuse, and sometimes the E.R. physician or detective will recommend an exam at the CAC. The licensed clinical social worker functions as part of the medical team, assuring that we are assessing the child’s mental health, as well as his/her physical health.