The Child at Risk: Child Protection and the Anesthetist

  • Craig SimsEmail author
  • Dana Weber


Anesthetists may encounter children who may have been physically or sexually abused. There are ethical and legal obligations to protect the child in this circumstance. The anesthetist may be the first person to notice the signs of child abuse during the preoperative assessment or in theater. Alternatively, the anesthetist may be present when other staff notice signs, and rarely a child may disclose abuse to the anesthetist. Anesthetists involved in resuscitation or intensive care may also notice suspicious injuries. There are several risk factors that increase the risk of abuse, which usually may cause injuries with a characteristic pattern. Once abuse is suspected, it must be reported. Most centers have local arrangements and child protection teams who can facilitate this.


Non accidental injury Detection Suspicious fractures Child abuse injury patterns 

Further Reading

  1. Child protection and the anaesthetist: safeguarding children in the operating theatre. Royal College of Anaesthetists. 2014. Accessed July 2019.
  2. Melarkode K, Wilkinson K. Child protection issues and the anaesthetist. Cont Educ Anaesth Crit Care Pain. 2012;12:123–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Winterton PM. Child protection and the health professional: mandatory responding is our duty. Med J Aust. 2009;191:246. An editorial that makes some good points about the issue.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anaesthesia and Pain ManagementPerth Children’s HospitalNedlandsAustralia

Personalised recommendations