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Fabricated or induced illness: The importance of health chronologies in recognising this form of abuse

02 December 2020
13 min read
Volume 1 · Issue 6

Abstract

Fabricated or induced illness is a rare form of child abuse and school nurses are well placed in the community to identify potential cases. They can interact with school age children over a long period of time and can more easily identify patterns and trends, or inconsistencies in a child's health. School nurses can be key to initiating a multi-agency approach, bringing relevant professionals together and helping to safeguard the child through early recognition of this condition. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of fabricated or induced illness and outline the importance of documentation and in particular the use of health chronologies to identify this rare form of child abuse.

Fabricated or Induced Illness, also known as Munchausen by proxy syndrome, by carers is a form of child abuse (Bass and Jones, 2011). It has been well documented in literature but can be complex in nature. It can have an emotional, physical and social impact on children and in some cases lead to disability or the death of the child (Bass and Adshead, 2007).

School nurses can play an important part in identifying suspected cases of fabricated or induced illness. Their position within the heart of the school-age community enables them to be well placed to provide information and knowledge relating to the families they are working with. The school nurse may be the only health representative working with a family on a regular and consistent basis and can provide accurate information that may need to be shared with other agencies. This article looks at the challenges facing school nurses but also focuses on the importance of accurate information gathering and the use of chronologies when identifying and working with suspected cases.

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