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Medical Neglect

Medical neglect means that even minimal health care is not being obtained for a child. This lack of health care can lead to serious harm and even death. For example, an untreated cold or flu can result in pneumonia, which can be fatal. Signs of medical neglect include:
  • Adult does not use emergency services at all, even with severe injury or illness
  • When medicine is prescribed, the prescription is not filled
  • Dental needs go untreated
  • Regimens recommended for treatment of chronic illness not followed
  • Prescribed psychological help not obtained
  • Failure to thrive: Failure to thrive is a significantly underweight child, usually less than 18-months-old. Any child suffering from failure to thrive should be reported as a potential victim of neglect. Approximately 30 percent of failure to thrive cases have an organic cause and require the adult to seek medical attention for the child.

    Warning signs include:
    • Prominent ribs
    • Thin buttocks
    • Much wrinkled skin
    • Spindly arms and legs
If you suspect a child is suffering from medical neglect, contact Child Protective Services. If you have questions about the health of your or any other child, contact your local health care provider, or visit the links below:
  • American Academy of Pediatrics provides expertise and tips for child safety and health
  • Indiana Family Helpline: 1.800.433.0746 is staffed Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and has an answering machine at all other times. Staffed by the Department of Health, they will help you locate and receive information on a range of health questions

Sources: "Child Maltreatment: A Clinical Guide and Reference," A.E. Brodeur & J.A. Monteleone; "Field Guide to Child Welfare," Judith Rycus & Ronald Hughes;
Child Welfare Information Gateway


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