I'm a Forensic Nurse! I want to help you with some of your questions. I have been a nurse for 30+ years and for the last 8 pre-K(Katrina), I worked in a Level 1 Trauma Center. For all of you out there wondering if you are a Forensic Nurse(FN for short), ask yourself:
Do I work in an ED?
Do I work with pts who have OD'd?
Do I work with OB pts?
Do I work in a clinic?
Do I work in a Plastic surgeon's office?
I could go on, but if you work with PATIENTS, you will undoubtedly encounter those with forensic needs. Learning what you can do for them is where Forensic Nursing knowledge comes in. Anytime you have a case where POTENTIAL legal implications exist is a forensic case. It is the intersection of law and medicine.
I didn't go to Kaplan, although someone said my name was on their site. They never asked my permission! And I would be very leery of any school that tries to pressure me into attending. I do have a friend who completed the California Riverside distance learning courses. She would have told me if there was something amiss there. By making these last two statements, I am not endorsing either program. I haven't checked in to either of them, so I'm not qualified to do so.
I would encourage anyone interested in Forensic Nursing to join the International Association of Forenisc Nurses, or www.iafn.org
I've been a member there for years and have learned so much. I do not have a certification or a degree in FN, in fact, I'm a Diploma nurse from way back. I became interested in Death Investigation in the late 80's, met Virginai Lynch at a time when FN was just a thought and a brand new concept. I have her book that yall mentioned and am using it now as a reference in a court case I have coming up. I'm doing Legal Nurse Consulting now and got my PI license.
Knowing what you're looking for when it comes to evidence and being able to collect and document it correctly is the key. Think about it: Is there something here that makes the story not match what I am seeing? what would happen if you threw away clothing from a hit and run victim that contained a peice of glass with the VIN number of the car that struck him? What about cutting clothing off a gun shot victim and using the bullet hole to start cutting? You know how, when you're folding clothes at home and you take it out of the laundry basket and give it a good shake? You don't that in a forensics case. You could be shaking trace evidence all over the room! You only have one chance to colect evidence!
How about if you have a patient who died traumatically (an automatic forensic case) and his face is bloody and the family wants to see him to say goodbye? Do you wash his face and get him as presentable as possible? or let them come in the room with him as is, having security there with yall in the background and explain to them why he is being left as-is? Your prioities are two fold:
1. preserve evidence to be able to help the cops get the guy who did this, and 2. allow the family time to begin the grieving process. I would allow them to touch his hand while he is still warm if possible. do not allow them to touch any areas that may contain forensic evidence. I'm going to subscribe to this thread because there is so much to talk about here. I love teaching forensic nursing. No one falls asleep in my class! Ask me some questions and i will be happy to answer in the best way I can. Please note: my punctuation and capitalization are not always perfect, so please forgive, and if there's something that needs clarification, please let me know. yall take care now!
I'm looking forward to this forum. Who knows YOU might be the nurse with forensic knowledge that takes care of ME!
One more note about demand: JCAHO is requiring that every hospital have nurses with forneisc knowledge to bable to identify cases that meet foresnic criteria, so get on the bandwagon at your facility early!