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Usefulness: Forensic Photo Documentation After Sexual Assault

Ernst, E. J. DNP, MBA, APRN, FNP-BC, CEN; Speck, P. M. DNSc, APN, FNP-BC, SANE-A, SANE-P, DF-IAFN, FAAFS, FAAN; Fitzpatrick, J. J. PhD, RN, FAAN

Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal: January/March 2011 - Volume 33 - Issue 1 - p 29–38
doi: 10.1097/TME.0b013e3182083128
Cases of Note

The forensic medical legal evaluation following sexual assault establishes evidence for law enforcement's investigation and criminal prosecution by the legal system. The sexual assault nurse examiner performs the forensic evaluation and uses digital photography to document physical injuries after sexual assault. Photographs have varying degrees of usefulness, but for a photograph to be useful, it must exhibit technical elements for the viewer. There was no tool available to evaluate the usefulness of digital photographs taken during forensic evaluation of genital injuries after sexual assault. The Photo Documentation Image Quality Scoring System (PDIQSS) tool was developed to rate photographic technical elements for usefulness. Using this tool, three experts on two separate occasions evaluated a series of digital photographs taken following sexual assault. The PDIQSS tool predicted usefulness in digital photography of female genital injuries following sexual assault when measured in all dimensions.

Author Affiliations: California State University Dominguez Hills, Carson, California and Community Living Centers, Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Los Angeles, California (Dr Ernst); The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis (Dr Speck); and Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio (Dr Fitzpatrick). This article is the result of Dr Ernst's work supported with the resources and use of the facilities at Department of Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

Corresponding Author: E. J. Ernst, DNP, MBA, APRN, FNP-BC, CEN, California State University Dominguez Hills- School of Nursing, 1000 E. Victoria Street, Carson, CA 90747 (

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.