emergency shelter (not counting those sent to other family members)
Texas Council on Family Violence
How big is the problem?
DV Cases seen in hospitals
Best estimates report that between 20 & 30 percent of women and 7.5 percent of men in the United States have been abused by their intimate partner.
• Physical violence without forensic exam
• Mary. Late 70’s• Triaged with husband.• Accidental fall• Seen by ER MD• X-rays performed• Treated for bruises and
sprain• Followed up as directed
with PMD 3 days later.
• Physical violence with forensic exam
• Mary is triaged with husband• Accidental fall• Seen by ER MD who
examines patient without husband present
• Notes that patient gives inconsistent history
• Patient admits to being abused by husband.
• Due to Mary’s age, LE is involved and a Forensic Exam is ordered.
Which evidence is more compelling?
• Sterile ER record documenting bruises and statement by patient and patients husband that she fell down in the home…several times over the past two days.
• Comprehensive medical and forensic examination with use of diagrams and photo-documentation.
• Patient statements admitting that her husband hit her arms and legs repeatedly with her purse because she did not make what he wanted for dinner.
What is the difference?
• Non forensically trained medical personnel• MD’s
• Little to no education on specialty of forensics
• “See one- Do one- Teach one” method of learning.
• RN’s• BON requires 2 hrs. of
forensics….once in a career
• Forensically trained • MD’s
• University level specialized training
• Child Abuse• Elder Abuse• Sexual Assault
• RN’s• University Level training• Professional Association
Certifications• State Certifications
Case Review: Police involved
• Patient arrival/ report screening
• Determine if they want police involved
• Contact police for appropriate jurisdiction
• Depending on agency policy• Police arrive within
minutes of call• Talk to victim• Obtain authorization to
have Forensic Nurse Exam
• Authorize FNE to provide exam
Activation of Forensic Nurse
• Charge nurse/ physician activates SANE/ FNE
• SANE/ FNE contacts Victim Advocate on Call
• SANE/ FNE reports to hospital to see patient
Consent and explanation
• Written and or verbal consent prior to starting exam
• Right to refuse• Right to have advocate present (specific to SA)
• Right to retain clothes• Right to stop at any time
• Right to refuse blood or urine collection
History of event
• Key to understanding events as they happened.
• Medical examination NOT a criminal (forensic) investigation interview
• We need some of the same information as LE but are primarily concerned about signs, symptoms, and potential outcomes (physical and emotional)
• Medical Need to Know• When did it happen?
• Time line for injuries
• Where were you?• Safety planning
• What happened to you?• What type of injuries can I
expect to find?
• What did the person, who hurt you, do?• Injury (physical and
• Positions during event• Injury potential
• Types of injuries inflicted, if known?• Treatment options
• Did you attempt to injure or ward off the other person? How?• Emotional/physical
Purpose of history
• True purpose• To determine actual and
possible injuries as they are conveyed by mechanism of injury.
• i.e. “He hit me on the left side of my face with a pillar candle”
• Given the history, the patient would need a CNS exam, possible CT of the head, and sutures for the large laceration.
• Secondary, legal advantage for the patient• Medical personnel who
obtain a history during the course of an examination may testify as to what the patient told them as a part of the medical examination.
• Exception to the Hearsay Rule.
Importance of history
• Without a history the caregiver is made to rely solely on what can be seen. Many injuries do not appear until hours, days, or weeks later.
Who should be present during history taking
• Differing schools of thought• Patient has the right to
have the persons of their choosing
Interpretation of the law is varied.
• Discussion:• Advocate• Family• Nurse only• Law Enforcement
Value of history to LE• Provides details of the incident as it pertains to injuries, time, persons involved.
• As a rule, nurses are confided in more often than law enforcement. The assumption by most individuals is that nurses are here to take care of me while the police have to figure out where the truth lies…..
• Medical history• Used to determine type
of injuries• Render a diagnosis• Formulate a plan of care• Provide treatment• Fault not a consideration
• LE Interview• Used to determine what
kind of crime occurred• Who was involved?• Who is the perpetrator?• What connection does
the victim have to the perpetrator?
• Is the complaining witness the victim?
Physical portion of exam
Head to toe looking for trauma
Provide compelling testimony
Why trauma?• Trauma informed care
• Trauma informed care in very simple terms, means that we evaluate the patient based on an assumption that trauma occurred, either mental or physical or both, and apply nursing process to that ends.
Linking history to exam
• When a history is taken we use the information gained in the history to guide us in our overall physical and mental assessment.