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FNN Book Review

September, 2013

Forensic Nursing. Evidence-Based Principles and Practice by Rose E. Constantino, Patricia A. Crane and Susan E. Young by FA Davis.

A book review by Joyce Foresman-Capuzzi, MSN, RN, CCNS, CEN, CPN, CTRN, CCRN, CPEN, AFN-BC, SANE-A, EMT-P, FAEN

Forensic Nursing. Evidence-Based Principles and Practice by Rose E. Constantino, Patricia A. Crane and Susan E. Young is a new text, published this year by FA Davis.  It is clearly a welcome addition to academic programs for use as a text, but also a valuable addition to a personal library.  

One of the most obvious aspects of this work is its focus on evidence based practice, as this is often difficult to find and incorporate in this burgeoning specialty.  The book is divided into four units that make the text easy to navigate.  Each chapter includes the same format, which makes for cohesive study and reading.  Key competencies are identified first, along with key terms, followed by the text.  There are plenty of tables and figures in each chapter that make it easy to delineate and clarify important parts.  It is outstanding that each chapter has an extensive evidence based practice page that asks valuable questions and identifies all aspects that the reader must look at when applying EBP.  Additionally, there are solid review questions in each chapter followed by a comprehensive reference section. Another important component of each chapter is a case study that is informative and helps to tie the content to practice and is a good jumping off point for discussion if done in a group.  

There are the standard chapters that are found in many similar texts, but Constantino, Crane and Young have thought to include some that are atypical and quite a stellar addition.  In addition to Ethics and law, sociocultural issues, known as ELSI are introduced to the reader in an ABC format.  Lawsuits, an important component of a forensic text, is presented as anatomy of a lawsuit, which makes for interesting reading.   A highlight of the chapters is one on informatics and simulation that includes some care plans and scenarios to help ensure competency.  The text includes many mnemonics to help the reader grasp concepts, including some helpful ones rarely seen, such as BALD STEP for forensic evidence findings.  There is also a fascinating chapter on Disaster Forensic Nursing that includes SARS, the incident command system and critical incident stress debriefing.
While many chapters will be familiar to the reader, such as elder abuse, evidence collection and preservation, corrections, human trafficking, etc, the chapters include content that may be new to the reader.  There is information on Jane Doe reporting, first responders, developing a case as a Legal Nurse Consultant, cold cases, genocide and cases such as Use of Forensic Science to Locate and Identify the “Disappeared” of Argentina.  

One feature that sets this fine book apart from the pack is the Davis Plus feature.  Once this book is purchased or adopted, the reader or instructor can create a log in on the FA Davis site to access additional material.  A nice selection of seven different printable blank body diagrams is in pdf format, there are drug monographs for nearly 60 psychotropic medications, the answer key to the chapter review questions and scores of helpful and unusual web based resources.   

I highly recommend this text both in the classroom and on the bookshelf.  Even the seasoned forensic nurse will benefit greatly from the format, material, case studies and questions in order to take forensic nursing practice up to the next level.  

June, 2013

Sex Trafficking A Clinical Guide for Nurses , Mary De Chesnay, Editor, Springer Publishing

A book review by Joyce Foresman-Capuzzi, MSN, RN, CCNS, CEN, CPN, CTRN, CCRN, CPEN, SANE-A, EMT-P.   Taylor Hospital, Ridley Park, PA and Lankenau Medical Center, Wynnewood, PA

A contemporary issue facing forensic nurses is that of sex trafficking or sex slavery.  While many may think this form of slavery only occurs only on foreign shores, in dark back rooms, this is not accurate and the prudent forensic nurse must be prepared to confront this violent crime in their own backyard.  Patricia Crane, a contributing author of chapter in Sex Trafficking: A Clinical Guide for Nurses, reminds the reader of the new book Sex Trafficking: A Clinical Guide for Nurses, that “trafficking of humans is one of the fastest growing crimes globally that affects human rights” and Donna Sebella further describes that “…The United States ranks as the second largest destination for women and children trafficked for commercial exploitation.”  

With these statements, the reader of this book is thrust into a comprehensive book dedicated solely to this topic.  While not new to civilization, this topic is now coming to light and being addressed by faith-based organizations, healthcare and even celebrities and politicians. Mary DeChesnay, editor of this fine book, brings expert authors together on this topic and develops a book that is very readable, authoritative and an excellent resource.  

DeChesnay alerts the reader early in the preface that this is a difficult topic to read, discuss and when necessary, difficult to care for patients because of the nature of this crime. The reader is cautioned to acknowledge feelings and find a release valve for them and equally important, to channel the anger that one may feel into action to combat this atrocity.
Throughout the book there are highlighted excerpts of case studies that help illuminate the concepts of human trafficking with real life stories.  The book is divided into two sections, one of Theoretical Perspectives and the second, Clinical Perspectives, which makes finding material to re-read helpful. In the section of Theoretical Perspectives, there are eight chapters that help to give the reader a solid understanding of the magnitude and scope of this problem.  The reader will learn about scope, legislation, prosecution, global and local perspectives, law enforcement and community models. This becomes a call to arms for those that are not familiar with this crime.  Clinical Perspectives begins with a chapter of personal stories that describes injuries and illnesses that victims have sustained while being trafficked.  Other chapters include some of the sequela of being trafficked and include pregnancy, malnutrition, drug abuse, sexually transmitted infections, mental health, trauma, and communicable diseases in children.  Two of the most helpful chapters are a toolkit for nurses that includes red flags that the nurse would assess and sensitive questions that can be asked to help identify these victims and the chapter on policy and procedure for emergency departments, which helps integrate many aspects of care. Additionally, this chapter addresses safety for hospital staff, as this is a violent crime and caregivers should be on full alert.

There is excellent integration of content between the chapters, and this book does what many books with chapters written by individual authors do not do and that is refer to one another’s chapter in order to develop flow and continuity.  Best practice pointers are liberally placed throughout the book, as are resources, websites, law enforcement contacts and references in order for the reader to learn more and become involved in caring for these victims and to help end this crime.  The appendices are excellent in the book.  The chapter on ED policy and procedure has been developed into a template that can easily be adapted to individual EDs.  Along with that are tables and boxes that identify red flags for sex trafficking recognition as well as common complaints with what a victim might present. There are also helpful referral sections and a comprehensive list of definitions to help gain understanding.  Helpful to the reader interested in teaching, is a curriculum plan for staff development on the topic as well.  

This excellent text puts forensic nurses in an excellent position to make an impact one of the 27 million people who are victims, just in the United States, of sex trafficking crimes. It is incumbent on the forensic community to take a stand and lead a charge in first learning about and then putting into action a plan to give a voice to the victims, caring for them as our patients and developing a strategy to help end this crime. This book will help to create the awareness and passion that is needed to accomplish just that.

Week of March 4, 2012

Forensic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice, second edition

A book review by Joyce Foresman-Capuzzi, MSN, RN, CCNS, CEN, CPN, CTRN, CCRN, CPEN, SANE-A, EMT-P.   Taylor Hospital, Ridley Park, PA and Lankenau Medical Center, Wynnewood, PA

A new comprehensive text, Forensic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice, second edition, by Rita M. Hammer, PhD, RN, BC, Barbara Moynihan,PhD, APRN, BC, AFN and Elaine M. Pagliaro, JD, MS  was just published by Jones and Bartlett Learning.  The bright red fingerprint on the cover, superimposed with a palm, catches the reader’s eye quickly and lets the reader know early what is inside the cover. Even the font on the cover conveys a forensic text awaits.  

The 518 page book is divided into five parts with a total of 23 chapters. Case studies are sprinkled liberally throughout the book to help bring principles and concepts to life and allow for the reader’s personal application.  Also highlighting this book are the Questions for Discussion at the end of each chapter.  This provides the reader with a way to self-check their learning and would be ideal for group discussion, either in formal education or for team building and continuing education.  The reference section is extensive in each chapter and the authors have thought to include suggested reading to further expound on the chapter, which is very helpful.   

The first part of the book includes standard background, epidemiology and theoretical details about forensic nursing. This is very comprehensive and I would find this particularly useful for anyone that has to provide supporting data for projects, reports and research.   Part two is a section on populations and is extremely thorough in providing readable information on vulnerable populations, an expanded section on diversity, sexual offenders, intimate partner violence, child and adolescent sexual abuse, the elderly and youth exposure to violence, among others.  While the section on Youth Exposure to Violence, Terrorism and Sudden Traumatic Death is well done, the title of the chapter seems confusing in that it seems to be three separate issues, but are actually all related to youth.  Part three is the strongest section and has a great deal of practical, applicable information for the clinical practitioner.  Evidence collection has some important information on legal considerations including HIPPA.  Death investigation is well done and contains an interesting section not seen in many generalist forensic nursing texts on postmortem changes such as autolysis, skin slip, putrefaction, algor mortis and the more common livor mortis and rigor mortis.  Even the practitioner not involved in death investigation will find this section immensely informative and interesting.   I would suggest this be reviewed before the forensic nurse would have to testify in court, as basic terms related to patient death are thoroughly explained.  There is also a helpful section on types of injuries that will be beneficial to anyone providing documentation.  It is curious to note that the intimate partner violence chapter in Part two also includes a very thorough section on types of injuries and actually includes some that are not included in Part 3.  It is in this part that eight pages of color plates help the reader visualize what has been described within the book.  The chapter on DNA is very technical and will support the reader who needs this information.  As a testament to the book being extremely current, there are chapters on internet crime as well as human trafficking that are quite informative.  Part Four includes chapters on the forensic exam of the sexual assault patient, correctional nursing, disaster and emergency management and the forensic nurse as an expert witness.

The chapter on sexual assault is very basic and for the competent forensic nurse doing sexual assault exams, there will not be much gleaned.  However, the Forensic Nurse Witness in the American Justice System is an excellent addition to the book.  There is an overview of the American justice system and helps the reader to understand the complexity of this in a manner that is easy to comprehend.  The section on evidence, including admissibility is particularly helpful.  No chapter on this topic would be complete without providing suggestions and pearls for the nurse testifying as an expert, which this book does.  The disaster chapter is a bit cursory, but contains enough information to whet the reader’s appetite to learn more with the suggested readings.  Part five, Concepts for the 21st Century, charges the reader to become a vital and dynamic advocate for forensic nursing.  This can be done by promoting education, as well as public policy and relations, which is very well described and provides an inspirational ending.  

The appendices are interesting and include websites for many aspects of forensic nursing and will be helpful to the reader wanting to focus on a particular topic.  Legal Issues of Search and Seizure address the victim’s rights and fourth amendment of the Constitution, which I have not seen in other comparative texts.  Appendix 3 is a very readable and detailed chapter on forensic photography and is a must read.  The last appendix has references to various screening tools and scales which will be helpful to those needed in depth evaluation of the forensic patient.  The books wraps up with an in-depth index to help the reader quickly find topics.  

Forensic Nursing: A Handbook for Practice is an ideal book to have in any forensic nurse’s library.  This book explains many terms in a way that the author’s make it easy to understand and will be an ideal reference for any nurse needing a deeper understanding of terms and concepts.  I would recommend that any nurse providing either documentation or testimony review the material in order to provide accuracy, reliability and credibility.  My one suggestion to the authors is to synthesize the two areas of the book that each includes injuries and wounds.  The way the material is currently presented, it is easy for the reader to grasp that two different authors wrote the two chapters independently, as the information is presented differently.  Additionally, buried in these two chapters, it would be difficult for the reader to intuitively locate this important material.  Otherwise, this was a helpful, interesting, readable book and one that I am sure will be dog-eared from much use.   

Week of December 13, 2012

Forensic Notes by Connie Darnell and Christine Michel

A book review by Joyce Foresman-Capuzzi, MSN, RN, CCNS, CEN, CPN, CTRN, CCRN, CPEN, SANE-A, EMT-P.   Taylor Hospital, Ridley Park, PA and Lankenau Medical Center, Wynnewood, PA

Everyone likes a handbook and Forensic Notes, by Connie Darnell, BSN, RN and Christine Michel, PhD, SSc, RN, DABFN, published in 2012 by F. A Davis does not disappoint.  Part of their popular Davis Notes series, this is deemed an excellent addition.  Measuring three inches by five inches, including the spiral binding, it is an easy reference to have at the ready.  In addition to the very colorful cover and portable size, the reader may first notice that the pages have a slicker feel to them than most books.  That is because the pages are designed to be written on with a ball point pen, but even more importantly, can we wiped off with an alcohol pad in order to reuse and it  is both OSHA and HIPPA compliant.  This makes it the ideal dynamic reference book.
Eight, colored and easy to use tabs line the bottom of the text for ease of reference.  The tab titles include patients, evidence, documentation, legal, child, adult, at risk and tools.   Additionally, in true handbook form, even the back page is helpful, in that there are 2 rulers, one in inches and one in centimeters.  Throughout the handbook, the reader will discover many charts and colored pictures and bulleted text, which makes for an ideal reference.  There is so much outstanding, evidenced based material included that the reader will hardly believe that so much can be contained in such a small package.  

Tab One, entitled Patients, covers basics of forensic nursing and the patients that need forensic nurses.  Some of the more usual topics in this section are burns, with a rule of nines chart for both adult and pediatric patients on which you can write.  Communicable diseases, end of life decisions, food and drug tampering, sexual assault, violence and gang slang and vulnerable populations are just some of the other items included in this section.  Evidence is Tab Two and a nice review of physical evidence and categories is included. Principles of evidence collection is thorough and demonstrated with color pictures.  Collection guidelines are outlined in nice, easy to read chart.  There is even a step by step guide to making a paper bindle.  Documentation pearls and wound descriptions, including sharp force and firearms are in the third tab entitled Documentation and are again highlighted with accurate pictures to illustrate the point.  A helpful section on various thermal and radiation burns is an unusual, but nice inclusion.  Basic principles of documentation and helpful reminders about photography round out this section.  Tab Four covers legal and ethical issues and is a must read.  Death investigation and mechanism of death is a helpful section, as is a good primer on organ donation.  The important Tab Four, on the Child, highlights ways to communicate with the child and also summarized categories of abuse.  There are two nice charts on Observations of the Child and Observations in the Caregiver that makes for quick reference.  A review of systems is included, as is a section on injury evaluation.   There are again, helpful pictures and drawings to illustrate injury, as well as differentials such as cupping and moxibustion.  The Associated Injuries of Child Abuse includes relevant topics such as genital cutting and shaken baby syndrome.  The Adult is covered in Tab Six and includes domestic violence and red flags, sexual assult, battering during pregnancy and questions to ask male victims. It is in this section that the authors address homosexual, bisexual and transgender victims.  It is wise of the authors to include the ever increasing hot topic of workplace violence and prevention strategies.  Those At Risk, included in Tab Seven, include risk factors, screening, points to consider, discharge planning and communication for those such as the incarcerated individuals, the disabled, the elderly, victims of sex trafficking and patients with mental illness.  The chapter ends with a helpful summary of legal issues for this people group.  The last tab is one of my favorites and likely one the reader will find extremely helpful.  It is the Tools tab and is very comprehensive.  The authors have included an extensive reference list of print and online references, video references and contacts to applicable organizations for those readers that want to dig deeper on a particular topic.  A section of definitions will help the reader find the appropriate word for both documentation, as well as testimony.  A list of suppliers of basic forensic resources and supplies is included with contact information is in this section as well.  One excellent section is a list of basic referral agencies such as district attorney, domestic violence hotline organ donation and 21 others are listed with a  place to write in your preferred phone number.  There are several blank body diagrams for both adult and child, as well as male and female genitalia on which one can document or reference.  Several forms are included and include a chain of custody ,  bomb threat , violent incident report, intimate or domestic violence, and forensic patient consent.  Conversion charts for height, weight, various conversion, metric and temperature are handy and helpful.  The book concludes with a thorough index in which the reader can easily find items on the numbered pages.

I highly recommend this book for both the novice and seasoned forensic nurse and it would also make a great commencement gift for someone coming onto a forensic team.  All of the vital, practical clinical forensic nursing information needed is at the reader’s fingertips in a size that can easily be placed in pocket, cart, locker or drawer.  Each reader needs to clearly put their name on the book, as anyone with any forensic nursing interest that gets a chance to look through it will likely want to “borrow” the copy and no one would want to part with their Forensic Notes. 

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