Basic Forensic Nursing Training


I recently cared for a patient that provided me with a bird’s eye view of the need for forensic training for all nurses. Her admitting diagnosis was peptic ulcer. She was placed on TPN to provide nutrition until the ulcer healed enough that she would, eat as it hurt to badly to take anything by mouth. She had undergone a diagnostic laparoscopy. She had unrelated complaints of severe headaches on the top of her head. A cat scan showed 2 lacunar infarcts. This lady was 43 years old. None of this sounds like a forensic issue, does it? When I entered her room she had obviously been crying. After questioning the reason for her tears, she finally asked that I close the door so she could talk in private. I thought she had enough going on that she was afraid of her diagnosis, frustrated with hospitalization or something of this nature. She then started to cry really hard, and stated that her 15 year old son had raped her one year ago that day. I had no idea what to say or do. While physical evidence was obviously not needed at this point, the continuing trauma was obvious and demanded addressing. Could forensic training have helped me to respond in a more appropriate manner? I was so appalled that I could think of nothing that was appropriate, so I held her hand and listened to her. I would have liked to have handled this better. Victims of trauma and abuse are obviously everywhere. Basic forensic training should be part of basic nurses training, providing nurses with the knowledge and tools to help their patients cope with these situations. And help us not to feel so helpless in the face of their pain.

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