Radiology programs are struggling to teach residents how to accurately identify signs of child abuse in medical images, according to a study presented at the American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) 2019 Annual Meeting earlier this month.

For the study, residents analyzed one case out of 65 nonaccidental trauma cases that were processed between 2014 and 2018 on the Emergent/Critical Care Imaging SIMulation online test platform. Researchers found that there was a high instance of residents neglecting to identify child abuse in the scans. The average correctly diagnosed rates varied between 7 and 79 percent a year, and the average correctly called rate over the course of the study years was 37.6 percent.

These results point to a larger need to introduce more effective strategies for recognizing and reporting child abuse signs in medical images in residency programs. Residents working at night should be better equipped with the skill set to notify physicians when a child patient is in potential danger.

“With the increasing rates of child abuse reported year over year, the observation and interpretation of the imaging findings associated with child abuse is of the utmost importance,” said study author Priya Sharma, MD.