A description of the forensic nursing role in emergency departments in Durban, South Africa

Nomusa N T Abdool, Petra Brysiewicz
Journal of Emergency Nursing: JEN: Official Publication of the Emergency Department Nurses Association 2009, 35 (1): 16-21

INTRODUCTION: South Africa has unenviable rates of violent crime and low rates of conviction and prosecution. Contributing to this is the poor collection of medical evidence by health workers.

METHODS: A quantitative exploratory descriptive survey using a questionnaire was carried out with nurses, either registered or enrolled with the South African Nursing Council, who had a minimum of 6 months experience in the Emergency Department. The Emergency Departments of two provincial (state) and two private hospitals, as well as two comprehensive care clinics (state) were used.

RESULTS: The findings revealed that most of the forensic tasks to be performed by the Emergency Department nurses were rated as never or seldom done and this was due to a lack of training and knowledge in the field of forensic nursing. The respondents did however indicate that forensic nursing was very important to their daily activities in the Emergency Departments.

DISCUSSION: Emergency nurses in South Africa are facing new challenges in acquiring the skills to effectively care for crime victims. It is becoming extremely important for these nurses to correctly manage the forensic evidence, as failure to do so can have far reaching legal consequences.

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