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Forensic Science for Healthcare Professionals

Forensic Science for Healthcare Professionals

 Healthcare practitioners are very likely to be confronted with forensic cases. However, due to a lack of awareness among healthcare professionals about these problems, these forensic cases are often skipped. The group of healthcare providers includes everybody who works in the hospital, from physicians to nurses, caregivers to administrative staff. Since there is no particular job description for forensic nurses in India and some other developing countries and hence, such shortcomings cause insufficiency in collection and preservation of evidence in forensic cases. It is very much required that the nurses, who manage the legal process in forensic cases, should receive training in forensic nursing in their training process and should be completely equipped with technical and legal knowledge to handle the crucial evidences in specific criminal cases. Any physical injuries caused by weapons, explosions, sharp objects, traffic incidents, fall occurrences, attack cases, intoxications, burn injuries, electric shocks, asphyxia, or any suicide attempts, murders, or suicides presented to emergency responders or health care providers are considered as police case and further subjected the forensic investigations. In such cases the legal process starts as soon as the patient gets in and received in the emergency rooms (ERs). The injuries along with the victim’s clothing may be critical in criminal investigations in order to locate the suspect, accused and/or victims. Apart from this, paediatric forensic cases are also observed as child abuses (physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse). Nurses and other staff have tremendous responsibilities in managing the any sort of forensic cases. Healthcare professionals should know that those are forensic cases and should be informed about the relevant process. Furthermore, since emergency medical personnel are often the first to witness forensic cases, they are often associated with writing forensic reports. Healthcare practitioners and administrators who work in healthcare facilities that offer 24/7 healthcare services should be knowledgeable about the forensic case process, both to support the legal process and to protect public health. It has been observed by many researchers that most of the healthcare professionals, did not have adequate information regarding evidence protection. On many occasions, it becomes too difficult for doctors and nurses to report such cases efficiently in the court room with specific legal knowledge, liabilities, and consequences. Hence, the negative outcomes for both the victim and the assailant are possible when forensic cases are not treated properly. The healthcare professional must be informed on how to act in forensic cases, on the issues they should be careful while taking the medical history, and on the whole process. Given the frequency at which forensic cases present themselves in health facilities and the fact that healthcare professionals are constantly confronted with forensic cases, scheduling in-service trainings on a regular basis and notifying all healthcare professionals about process-related issues that must be addressed will help to avoid problems in forensic case management.

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