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Liabilities of a Physician Confronted with Child Abuse

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image of European Journal of Health Law

Abstract Several research questions raises when physicians are confronted with a possible case of child abuse. First, there is a problem of professional secrecy. In most European countries, physicians have the right to speak when confronted with a state of emergency. In other countries, physicians have a duty to speak and alert the police when the life or physical integrity of a person is at stake. A second topic to be discussed involves the possible liability of physicians who do not report child abuse. By not reporting a case of possible child abuse, the physician is respecting the family life of the parents, even though the child might continue to suffer damages. Third and essentially, I analyse the possible liability of physicians who do inform the prosecutor of a suspected child abuse. Specific criteria are elaborated to establish negligence when physicians report child abuse to the prosecutor.

Affiliations: 1: University of Antwerp Antwerp Belgium


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