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Pediatricians to Consult on Child Abuse under $3.4 Million Contract
The University of Texas Medical School at Houston will be the flagship site for a Texas Department of Family and Protective Services statewide program to provide expert consultation for suspected child abuse cases, especially in rural areas, where experts who can spot the signs of child abuse are not readily available.
The one-year $3.4 million contract also provides for ongoing training for Children’s Protective Services (CPS) workers on child abuse and related issues.
In 2005, more than 338,000 children were part of suspected child abuse investigations in Texas.
Rebecca Girardet, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the UT Medical School, said CPS workers now can contact child abuse experts from anywhere in the state using a toll - free number.
“They can ask questions, give us case descriptions and send us pictures, and the physician provides consultation concerning whether or not abuse has occurred. This allows the CPS worker to determine how best to protect the child,” Girardet said. The network also is developing a Web-based system for electronic consultations and learning modules.
To help with the anticipated case load, the UT Medical School has made agreements with the UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio and the UT Medical Branch at Galveston to provide experts at those health institutions. The network plans to expand eventually to include experts from outside the UT System as well.
“This program will allow us to have a coordinated center approach so we can address suspected child abuse cases,” said Margaret McNeese, M.D., associate dean of admissions and student affairs and professor of pediatrics at the Medical School. “We are looking forward to collaborating with other physicians across the state to help us deliver this much needed care.”
By Melissa McDonald, Institutional Advancement
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