What Does A Forensic Nurse Do?

"As someone who is studying to get my bachelor of science in nursing degree, I am curious about a field that some of my friends were talking about—that of forensic nursing. I haven’t heard of forensic nurses before so I’m curious: What do forensic nurses do?"

asked by Sheryl G. from Dallas, Texas

Forensic nursing is a field that enables registered nurses to work with victims of assault, abuse and neglect, allowing them to provide care to those who are most likely to go through an arduous legal process as a result of the crimes committed against them. Highly-trained registered nurses, forensic nurses often call on their emergency room experience before because they are often the first ones called when assault or abuse victims are brought to the hospital emergency room.

Forensic nurses are interested in bringing together healthcare with law and act as sleuths in determining whether a crime has been committed. They also attempt to find out who the perpetrators are so that they can be brought to justice.

When an assault victim is first brought to the hospital, forensic nurses see to it that the necessary care is given to them, particularly if they have sustained injuries so severe that they are caught in a life and death situation. If the patient is conscious and can talk, they would interview the patient to obtain such information as his or her personal details and the sequence of events that ultimately led to him or her being brought to the hospital.

Forensic nurses record the patient’s testimony and take pictures of the injuries inflicted. They would also start gathering evidence that would help build the case. They carefully collect clothing, bullets and other pieces of evidence so that these can be examined and later presented to the court.

An important task that forensic nurses must do is to educate patients in the care and legal options that are available to them. They make the patient understand that it is up to them if they want the battery or assault to be reported to the police. If the victim does not want to press charges, then forensic nurses cannot do anything about it anymore even if they really want to send the perpetrator to jail.

In addition to the legal aspect of the case, forensic nurses are also responsible for referring the victims to shelters that care for abused individuals. If in their judgment they find that the victim would need counseling, they see to it that sessions are arranged with psychologists. They also help arrange for other services that victims need to help them deal with the trauma.

Forensic nurses deal with trauma and death on a regular basis. They talk with and listen to victims, comprised mostly of vulnerable groups like women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities. Aside from telling them about how to manage their injuries, forensic nurses also provide them that much-needed emotional support and courage at their most difficult time.

Career Spotlight: Forensic Nurse

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