Roles of Public Health and Forensic Nurses

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I read the article A Statement of APHA Public Health Nursing Section (1996) “The Role of Public Health Nursing”

The role of the public health nursing practice is affected by biological, cultural, environmental, economic, social, and political factors. As part of the health care system public health nursing practice reacts to these factors through working with the community to promote health and prevent disease, injury and disability.

The health needs of people in the U.S. are changing, both on a local and nationwide basis. The Healthy People 2000 program focused on problems that affected the nation: cancer, obesity, etc. The local public health nursing practice had to be aware of these, and properly educate their community.

The ‘Healthy People 2000’ objectives had the Nation’s best interest in hand. It was one of the major accomplishments, including surpassing the target for reducing deaths from coronary heart disease and cancer.

Healthy People 2010 continue its initiatives, and will no doubt increase quality and years of healthy life, and hopefully eliminate health disparities.

Forensic nursing encompasses providing care to victims of crime, collecting evidence, and providing health care services within the prison system. “Dead or alive, patients need nurses to advocate for them, and never more so than in forensic cases. Contrary to common belief, forensic means establishing the facts in any legal case, not just those involving a death.” CRACKING THE CASE: Your role in FORENSIC NURSING (Nov 2004), Serita Stevens

In reality, nurses are already forensic nurses: Anything we document can be used as evidence in a court of law. Our forensic skills come into play any time a patient’s injuries become the basis for a criminal action or a lawsuit. As a nurse, we are the patient’s first line of defense.

Evidence nurses collect and document can be used in cases involving domestic violence, medical malpractice, traumatic injury, murder or manslaughter, suicide, drug overdose, or sexual assault. While I was working as community based nurse, my documentation went to court, and used as evidence.

I thought that forensic nursing and public health nursing are two totally different practices.
As part of the health care system, public health nurses practice by working with the community to promote health and prevent disease, injury and disability. In the same vein forensic nurses are working with the community to promote health and prevent disease, injury and disability.

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