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New Zealand emergency nurses knowledge about forensic science and its application to practice


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Violence is a major public health problem worldwide. Emergency nurses are often in a unique position to identify, assess, evaluate, and treat these patients, but there is limited forensic knowledge and skills to enable emergency nurses to feel confident to guide their practice in New Zealand. The purpose of this study was to establish the level of forensic knowledge and skills currently known and used by nurses in clinical practice working in New Zealand District Health Boards (DHB)’s emergency departments. The study aimed to develop a tertiary education course based on the needs and the knowledge required, to enable nurses to practice confidently and safely with Forensic patients in the emergency department setting.
A descriptive approach using online questionnaires including both quantitative and qualitative components was sent to all emergency departments in New Zealand DHB’s as well as the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) emergency nurses’ section. Open-ended questions were analysed by thematic analysis. Closed questions were analysed by SPSS version 15 data analysis software (SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL). Themes identified focused on the knowledge and skills emergency nurses currently possess and the level of specialist education required to ensure patients receive the best medicolegal care.
Results of the questionnaire revealed limited knowledge in being able to correctly identify all forensic patients, insufficient knowledge around evidence preservation and collection and limited knowledge around legislation or legal processes governing clinical care were discovered. However, 84% of all participants felt that having forensic knowledge was important for their practice, indicating a need for increased forensic education. Practice implications indicate that forensic education is warranted, needed and desired among ED nurses within the clinical setting.
As forensic patients generally require emergency medical attention, it is important that nurses as part of the front-line first responders have forensic knowledge around preservation and collection of evidence during the provision of medical care. It was found that, emergency nurses do not have enough knowledge around forensic issues indicating that forensic education is warranted, needed and desired among ED nurses within the clinical setting. The study also provides support for the implementation of tertiary forensic science nursing postgraduate study in New Zealand.

Item Type: Journal article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Forensic nursing, Forensic care, Emergency department, Emergency nursing Knowledge, Victims of violence
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
R Medicine > RT Nursing
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Health & Social Practice
Depositing User: Andrea Donaldson
Date Deposited: 06 May 2020 22:33
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 08:49

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