Forensic Nurses
About

My service to IAFN has always been an honor for me and an opportunity to give back to my colleagues who have been there for me during my nursing career.  The committees on which I have served have been a springboard to connecting with other forensic nurses, growing as a nurse and seeing forensic nurses through the eyes of others.  This has expanded my ability to care for patients, to develop educational opportunities for forensic nurses, and to advance my scholarship. 

Anita Hufft, PhD, RN, Valdosta, GA

What is Forensic Nursing?

Forensic Nursing, as outlined in the Forensic Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice, is the practice of nursing globally when health and legal systems intersect. 

Why is Forensic Nursing Important?

Victims of violence and abuse require care from a health professional who is trained to treat the trauma associated with the wrong that has been done to them—be it sexual assault, intimate partner violence, neglect, or other forms of intentional injury. Forensic nurses are also a critical resource for anti-violence efforts. They collect evidence and give testimony that can be used in a court of law to apprehend or prosecute perpetrators who commit violent and abusive acts.

By hiring and training Forensic Nurses, communities supply themselves with a vital link to the administration of justice.

 

"Forensic Nurses play an integral role in bridging the gap between law and medicine. They should be in each and every emergency room"

Joseph Biden, Vice President, United States
from Forensic Nursing: a Handbook for Practice 

What is a Forensic Nurse?

A forensic nurse is a nurse who provides specialized care for patients who are victims and/or perpetrators of trauma (both intentional and unintentional) Forensic Nurses are NURSES first and foremost. However, the specialized role of forensic nurses goes far beyond medical care; forensic nurses also have a specialized knowledge of the legal system and skills in injury identification, evaluation and documentation.  After attending to a patient’s immediate medical needs, a forensic nurse often collects evidence, provides medical testimony in court, and consults with legal authorities. 

Who can become a forensic nurse?

Since forensic nursing is a nursing specialty, a person must first become a nurse before becoming a forensic nurse.  Learn more about becoming a forensic nurse.

Are there different types of forensic nurses?

Forensic nurses work in a variety of fields, including sexual assault (as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners or SANEs), domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, elder mistreatment, death investigation, corrections, and in the aftermath of mass disasters.  

Where do forensic nurses practice?

In the United States, forensic nurses most frequently work in hospitals, community anti-violence programs, coroner’s and medical examiners offices, corrections institutions and psychiatric hospitals.  Forensic nurses may also be called on in mass disasters or community crisis situations.    

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