Forensic Nursing

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I am surprised that there is not more calling for forensic nurses in my area. I work for the first hospital in the US, founded by Ben Franklin in 1765 in the city of Philadelphia. We have a tuition reimbursement program, however, I was really given a hard time when speaking to Human Resources about studying forensic psychology or forensic nursing. They told me that the University of Pennsylvania HealthCare System did not hire forensic nurses or forensic psychologists, and why should they pay for that type of education. I was taken aback. I would have thought that this particular healthcare system would be at the forefront of advances in nursing. Lynch, 2006, states that “it is not surprising that there is strong support for nursing specialists who possess the combination of knowledge and skills required to go beyond the traditional treatment of patients with liability-related injuries, victims of crime, suspects, or offenders in police custody to fulfill the requirements for forensic expertise in healthcare”. Has forensic nursing really come into its own? Or perhaps it has in certain areas of the country or certain cities? Lynch, 2006, also mentions that “All trauma patients are considered forensic cases until suspicion of abuse or questions of liablity are confirmed or ruled out. These cases require consideration of intent (an element of crime) necessitating the clinical investigation of injury, illness, or death”. As it stands in the great majority of hospitals in the area in which I live, I have to say that it must be the assumption of our hospitals and legal system that ER nurses are well trained in this area when indeed, they are not. They have their experience behind them, but the official training is lacking. How do we become proponents of every hospital ER having forensic nurses on staff or on-call for those cases? Who preserves the evidence? References Lynch, Virginia A., 2006. Forensic Nursing. St. Louis: Elsevier Mosby.

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