November 11–15, 2019, marks Forensic Nurses Week. During this special week we honor the extraordinary work of nurses who practice in this unique nursing specialty across our Indian health system. Forensic nurses have the knowledge and expertise to decrease the healthcare consequences of violence, improve patient recovery, and lower healthcare costs. As the fastest growing nursing specialty, forensic nursing serves to ensure that patients who are affected by violence receive expert, compassionate, and comprehensive care.
Victims of violence and abuse require care from health professionals who are trained to identify and treat trauma patients. These professionals provide forensic medical care for injuries sustained from violent acts such as sexual assault, intimate partner violence, neglect, or other forms of intentional injury. Forensic healthcare is a critical element for healing in Native communities as Native people experience the highest rates of interpersonal violence and more than half of Native people have experienced some form of sexual violence, according to the Department of Justice.
Our forensic nurses play a vital role in the care of victims. They provide medical treatment and evaluation and have a specialized knowledge in injury identification and evidence collection. Forensic nurses are supportive of victims both in and out of the healthcare setting. These nurses are advocates for prevention education and are a critical resource for anti-violence efforts. Forensic nurses are familiar with the legal system and assist with the prosecution of individuals who commit acts of abuse by testifying in a court of law.
Staying connected to the world of forensic healthcare is how health professionals can better serve our Native communities. The IHS Forensic Healthcare webpage provides our healthcare providers with access to domestic and sexual violence training. The site also allows access to webinars on topics such as strangulation evaluation, historical trauma, neurobiology of trauma, and forensic photography.
We honor our forensic nurses’ commitment to providing culturally appropriate and compassionate care to our Native patients!