Clinical forensic medicine

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Clinical Forensic Medicine is that branch of medicine interacting among legal, judicial and police officials and usually involving living subjects.

The roles of a forensic physician include:

  • Determination of fitness to be detained in police custody
  • Determination of fitness to be interviewed by police or other agency
  • Determination whether or not an independent person (Appropriate Adult ) is required to ensure that the detainee's rights are preserved. This applies especially in relation to the mentally ill or otherwise vulnerable detainee
  • Determination of fitness to be charged; (the detained person must be competent to understand the charge and to respond to it)
  • Determination of fitness to be transferred to another place of custody or court
  • Assessment of intoxication by, and/or withdrawal from, alcohol or other drugs
  • Assessment of a person's fitness to drive a motor vehicle, especially related to intoxication; and collection of relevant forensic samples, commonly blood, for analysis
  • Intimate body searches of detainees for controlled drugs or other contraband
  • Examination, interpretation and documentation of injuries; of detainees, police officers injured in the line of duty and complainants of assault
  • Diagnosis of death and preliminary advice at the scene of an unexpected death
  • Examination of, and collection of forensic samples from, complainants and alleged perpetrators of sexual assault
  • Giving evidence or otherwise assisting the courts

Much of this work necessarily takes place in custody suites in police stations, but may on occasion be in hospital, if e.g. a driver has been brought there from an accident scene and blood testing for drugs/alcohol is required, (such forensic sampling is never the responsibility of hospital staff), or in "Rape Sympathy Suites".

Request for reports on patient's injuries

Doctors may be asked to provide a report on injuries suffered by their patients for medicolegal purposes. This is not an NHS duty. Doctors are advised to consult their defence organisation. See also Reports for the police.

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