Primary care doctors fail to report a significant number of cases of child abuse in the United States, according to a new study from Boston University's School of Medicine.

Researchers said that although primary care doctors assess suspected child physical abuse, they decide not to report a "substantial" number of cases.

"Child abuse experts and (Primary Care Provicers) are in general agreement concerning the assessment of suspected child physical abuse, yet this study demonstrates that primary care providers decide not to report a substantial proportion of child physical abuse cases," said lead author Robert Sege, MD, FAAP, professor of pediatrics at BUSM, and director, Division of Ambulatory Pediatrics at BMC.

According to the research scheduled to appear in the November-December issue of Academic Pediatrics, primary care providers failed to report 21 percent of injuries that child abuse experts would have reported.

Researchers emphasized the need for better education of primary care doctors regarding child abuse.

"To become more certain of their suspicions, PCPs need better education about the recognition of injuries that are suspicious for child abuse, particularly bruises and fractures, and the role of state Child Protective Services agencies in investigating the child's circumstances," said Sege.