Forensics and the nursing process

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Forensics is an integral part of the nursing process. Through forensics, a focused assessment can evolve into a comprehensive assessment. Part of the nursing assessment process is being open to clues given by what is not being said, marks on the body, and a partner who answers questions for the client. A busy practioner in an acute care setting can find that her focused assessment can quickly become a comprehensive, even life saving assessment. To illustrate this point I will pull from a case during my experience in Women’s Health. A client comes into the acute care area of a Women’s Hospital. Her complaint is menstrual cramping with severe pain unrelieved by Ibuprophen. During the interview process, collecting subjective data, the practioner notices that the client’s partner answers the questions for her, and that he does not leave the client’s side. Collecting objective data, the nurse notices unusual bruising along the client’s inner thighs, and upper arms. When the practioner says that she is going to do a pelvic exam and do screening for STDs, the client refuses. This could be a client who is very private with a very protective partner, or the victim of abuse. It is part of the skills gained through learning the nursing process, enhanced by the forensic ability gleaned through years of experience which will guide the practioner to giving her client optimal care.

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