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Keywords

critical care, evidence, forensic nursing, JCAHO, liability, medicolegal

 

Authors

  1. Hoyt, Constance A. MSN, RN

Abstract

The critical care nurse is in an ideal position to assume responsibilities related to the identification of forensic cases and the preservation of associated evidence. Victims of child and elder abuse and neglect, individuals involved in vehicular or industrial accidents, substance abusers, and incarcerated populations are among the several types of patients that are likely to managed in the intensive care unit (ICU). Hospitals and their personnel assume considerable liability in such cases for detecting, collecting, and preserving evidence, as well as for reporting and referring the cases to appropriate law enforcement or judicial authorities. The Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has published specific regulatory guidance to ensure that all healthcare personnel are properly educated to assume certain forensic responsibilities. The orientation and in-service programs of the ICU nurse should include specific guidance regarding forensic principles, practices, and procedures.