New hospital-based clinical forensic medicine service in Queensland, Australia
A new hospital-based clinical forensic service staffed by forensic physicians has been set up in South East Queensland, Australia, as part of the Gold Coast Hospital and Health Service Emergency Department (ED) with the aim of creating a more stream-lined response to patients requiring forensic medical assessments. The service will also coordinate emergency department nurses delivering healthcare to prisoners in police custody. This service model allows documentation of injuries and collection of biological and trace evidence from assault victims by trained professionals in a safe clinical environment, where their other medical needs are also being addressed. Forensically trained clinicians can also assist emergency department staff with the broad range of ED presentations that have medico-legal sequelae such as interpersonal violence, intoxication and vehicle crashes.
The service will involve the full scope of clinical forensic medicine practice; examination and treatment of victims and alleged perpetrators in investigations of crimes against the person (family violence, sexual assaults, physical assaults), evidence collection and the documentation and interpretation of injuries; assessment and medico-legal opinions regarding the clinical effects and toxicology of alcohol and drugs; medico-legal opinions involving traffic medicine including drug and alcohol effects, and medical causes contributing to crash causation; preparation of medico-legal reports and presentation of evidence in court.
This development reflects recognition of the growing need for forensic representation in hospital practice and emulates service models in other parts of the world where specialised forensic services have begun to appear within hospitals.
For further information:
Dr Cathy Lincoln