Forensic Nursing Physical Assessment


I have been an RN for 37 years, a graduate of a diploma program in 1970. Advanced Physical Assessment is part of my BSN curriculum. Interestingly I have always had a strong interest in Forensics, starting with watching Quincy and moving on to the writings of Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reich, and other shows like CSI and Bones. I had participated in SA exams long before attending the course and really was more interested in the techniques and clues of observation, examination, evidence-collection and just putting all the pieces together. I always had keen observations skills, once sending police back to a scene to look for pills or other toxic evidence because of the odd breath odor from an unconscious male; determining right or left hand dominance to figure out self inflicted or someone else pulling a trigger gun shot wounds, injuries consistent with being driver or passenger and exactly how does a one year old fall on an iron. Forensic Nursing courses including Forensic Photography, articles, seminars and membership in Forensic Nursing Association only sharpened my assessment skills. As Manager, I encouraged several staff to attend SANE classes whether interested in becoming a SANE nurse or not and Forensic Photography courses. They all reported an increase in assessment skills. Many became SANE nurses others said they just became better nurses. In the course of a regular day many ED patients give vague histories regarding the events that caused their visit; legal (DUI, driving on suspended license, etc), memory deficits due to age or disease process, and fear of embarrassment because Nurse, “I did something really stupid.” Others may present obtunded or intoxicated or high, so assessment skills become even more important to provide safe and expedient care. My new role as an Informatics Nurse hasn’t stopped the clinical practice side of my brain as I do perdiem in our ED. I want to keep those skills sharp because who knows what the future will hold, and I owe it to my patients to be the best I can be. Dr Johnson, now I want to take your Forensic Anthropology course?


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