Pediatrician vs. child abuse expert for exam after abuse

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, shares advice for parents on what kind of medical examine is required and what kind of expert is recommended to perform the examination
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Pediatrician vs. child abuse expert for exam after abuse

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Many parents wonder once I know, or my child has told me that's been molested, or I'm concerned that it's being molested, what kind of medical examine is required and who do I go to? Often times, I think it's okay, and it feels comfortable for the parent to be able to just call their pediatrician to find out whether their pediatrician will see them. Many times the evaluation of the pediatrician office may be sufficient. If there is more required and a true forensic evaluation is necessary, the the child would be refereed to a sub-specialist, like a child abuse expert, in order to do a different type of evaluation. More extensive type of evaluation. Often time it is the investigation agencies, either child protective service or law enforcement, that will determine which kind of evaluation needs to be done. The other part of the examination is the forensic interview with the child. So, a developmentally appropriate interview to figure out who went my way and where and all the details of what may or may not have happened. And this should be done by the most experienced person. Some pediatricians do have some qualifications to be able to interview the children. Often time it is left to the child abuse experts, or with the child protective services or law enforcement, will do their interviews as well.

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, shares advice for parents on what kind of medical examine is required and what kind of expert is recommended to perform the examination

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Karen Kay Imagawa, MD

Director of the Audrey Hepburn CARES Center, Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Karen Kay Imagawa, MD: Director, Audrey Hepburn CARES Center, Director, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Program, Division of General Pediatrics; Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Karen Kay Imagawa, MD, is also the Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and is a full-time attending within the Department of Pediatrics, Division of General Pediatrics, at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). She received her medical degree at the University of California, Los Angeles, and is board certified in General Pediatrics, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics, and Child Abuse Pediatrics.  Dr. Imagawa has made significant contributions to program development at CHLA: She is currently the Director of the Joint General Pediatrics – USC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Program ,expanding the program to its current position with the largest number of board-certified developmental-behavioral pediatricians (7) in a Southern California program, and was integral in establishing the ACGME accredited Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Fellowship program at CHLA . Dr. Imagawa is also one of the founders and the Director of the Audrey Hepburn CARES Center at CHLA, a multifaceted interdisciplinary child protection center involving evaluation, treatment, prevention, education and research in the field of child maltreatment.  Dr. Imagawa is a court appointed expert (730 paneled expert in both Criminal and Dependency Court) in the field of child abuse, and was actively involved in the development of the Foster Care Hub at CHLA, one of seven designated Hubs in Los Angeles County that were initially established to provide forensic, medical, and mental health screenings for newly detained children entering the foster care system.  She previously served on the advisory group for The California Medical Training Centers formulating standardized training in child abuse, and collaborated on a task force to develop standards at the state level for mental health care for child victims of trauma. She is a medical consultant for the Inter-agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect (ICAN – the official county agency which coordinates the development of services for the prevention, identification and treatment of child abuse and neglect), having participated in various medical task forces establishing protocols and best practice standards for the evaluation and treatment of suspected victims of child abuse, included those with developmental disabilities. Dr. Imagawa’s strength as a clinical educator is also seen in her dedication to education and training. She has been invited to participate in numerous speaking engagements, as well as requests from the media and entertainment industry, involving a variety of topics in the fields of child abuse and/or developmental-behavioral pediatrics. 

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