Finally in the news this week we look at how the newly trained forensics nurses, specifically those trained as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners. I found this article over at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch site where it details the story of an attempted sexual assault and the way one specially trained nurse helped gather evidence and help the patient begin to heal at the same time.
Helping Crime Victims Since 1992
The first forensics trained nurses started showing up in the early 1990’s and the International Association of Forensic Nurses started in 1992. There are now more than 3,000 nurses who are members of that organization. In some places, one of these specially trained nurses are required to be present whenever a patient is brought in to a hospital for care following a sexual assault.
Since we don’t learn evidence handling procedures in nursing school, we don’t all have the training to handle this valuable material correctly. That could be the difference between a criminal going to jail or going free. Having a nurse trained in evidence collection from a living victim during an assessment of injuries is important to preserving the legal chain of evidence and the nurse can later testify to their training and specific procedures used.
In the St. Louis University Hospital, the director of nurses, herself a forensic nurse, makes sure that there is always a trained forensics nurse on duty in the ER in case a victim is brought in by police or EMS. The nurses don’t just collect evidence, they counsel the patients about resources for victims and where to find counseling.
The forensics nurse can also be a valuable resource for police officers and prosecutors who often have a checkered past when handling rape and assault victims. I urge you to check out the entire article. I’ll have a link in the show notes for this episode.
Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Prisons, Nurses, Wizard of Oz and Nursing Show Episode 349.