Physical Abuse Series:
Medical Neglect

Medical neglect is a type of child maltreatment that requires information from healthcare providers in order to make the diagnosis. Child protection investigators will rely on healthcare providers to interpret the medical findings and to help them understand what is needed to meet the child’s medical needs. While less common than other types of abuse or neglect, medical neglect often co-occurs with other types of maltreatment.

The assessment for medical neglect varies with the injury or condition of the child. For the otherwise normal child with an acute injury or medical condition, the clinician should first consider whether the caregiver should have known medical care was urgently needed, whereas parents of children with chronic illnesses or parents of children with complex medical needs are generally expected to recognize and provide the needed medical care.

In this module, a step-wise approach for assessing medical neglect is presented, as well as an overview of the numerous risk factors within a socio-ecological framework, and summaries of special situations when medical neglect should be considered.

Developed in partnership with:
  • Michael A. Taylor, M.D.
  • CAPT Amy Gavril, MD, MSCI
  • Nancy Kellogg, MD, Senior Medical Editor


Authors, Contributors, and Reviewers