Child Abuse Elder Abuse/Neglect

Clinical Guide: Determining the Age of Bruises

I receive a lot of questions about determining the age of bruises. Although the research has shown that determining the age of bruising by clinicians based on color provides consistently inaccurate results, with poor interrater reliability, I still find that some are loathe to turn their backs on this highly unreliable assessment technique. So I have provided an overview of the literature below, with articles split into 2 categories: those that address the attempt to age bruises based on color in a routine clinical environment (Clinical Assessment of Bruises) and those that have a much more high-tech approach (Laboratory Assessment of Bruises). These articles address aging bruises using equipment and mathematical models not typically seen in our routine clinical practices. It’s important to note that studies in the latter category found greater success at determining the age of bruises, which further emphasizes the unreliability of visual assessment alone.

The articles below address bruising in a wide range of populations. Some specifically address pediatrics; one specifically addresses older adults.  Free full-text articles are available as noted. You’ll find both the Word doc with active links and the more printer friendly, sharable PDF version.


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6 replies on “Clinical Guide: Determining the Age of Bruises”

Jen, thanks for this list of references, I frequently have individuals who insist they provide a “guesstimate” on age of a bruise. Aging a bruise is a CLM for me ( career limiting move!is that a Canadian term??)

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