The Inherent Value of Forensic Training for ER Nurses


I have been reading in the text, “Clinical Forensic Medicine, a Physician’s guide” in the sexual assault chapter and wanted to share a personal experience regarding this subject.

I was assigned to the trauma room in a busy ED and received a female in her 20’s that had been found unconscious, beaten badly, and sexually assaulted. The priority of care for this patient was management of her head injury.

The trauma MD was reluctant to do any type of sexual assault exam or collect any specimens due to her condition. I was able to persuade the ED physician to come in and examine her for injuries sustained from the sexual assault as well as documenting his findings.

I quickly obtained pubic hair combings and clippings, a wet mount, and vaginal swabs. The patient was then taken to CT scan and later declared brain dead. It was the families wish that she was able to be an organ donor and there was a great deal of controversy regarding this because of the criminal action.

Due to evidence collected in the trauma room, the coroner agreed to allow her to be an organ donor prior to the removal of life support. Shortly after this I was informed that because of the evidence collected, they were able to identify a suspect and later arrest him for this horrible crime based on the DNA findings from the collected evidence.

Although this was a tragic circumstance, it gave me and I am sure the family a great deal of comfort that the person that committed this crime was caught as well as the ability to donate this individuals organs.

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