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Role of the forensic psychiatric nurse

Lyons, Tamsen BA, BS1

Journal of Forensic Nursing: March 2009 - Volume 5 - Issue 1 - p 53–57
doi: 10.1111/j.1939-3938.2009.01033.x

The article clarifies the role of the forensic psychiatric nurse (FPN) and challenges interchangeable terms confusing forensic and correctional nursing. It addresses the varied venues where the FPN may assess the patient (victim or perpetrator) and gather evidence that may influence conviction, sentencing, recidivism, treatment, and prevention. In depth knowledge of medical and psychiatric nursing as well as the criminal justice system is germane to competent advanced practice forensic nursing. An analogy is drawn between the forensic assessment for risk of violence which is commonly performed by psychiatric nurses in Emergency Departments and the collection and preservation of evidence by medical nurses in Emergency Departments. Both instances require evidence-based techniques and a familiarity with forensic procedures and are often performed by nurses who are not specifically trained in these areas. A case analysis demonstrates the value of an in depth and broad assessment of victim and perpetrator. Evidence based training and the application of structured clinical judgment used in the evaluation of victims and perpetrators make it possible for the FNP to provide expert testimony and to make recommendations for treatment.

1MS Nursing Program, University of Southern Maine, Portland, Maine

Correspondence Tamsen Lyons, BA, BS, University of Southern Maine College of Nursing and Health Professions, Masterton Hall, Portland, ME 04104. Tel: 207-780-4505; E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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