In 2017, a team of forensic nurses in Maryland launched the first known nurse-led and managed service delivery program designed to meet the unique medicoforensic needs of immigrant survivors, including asylum seekers, in their community. The expanded suite of services involved conducting forensic physical evaluations, which included medicolegal history-taking, head-to-toe forensic physical assessment, photodocumentation, and presentation of related findings in the form of written affidavits for use in applications for legal reliefs in immigration court (e.g., asylum, T or U visas, Convention Against Torture).
Case-based data for patients served as part of the program (n = 8), and semistructured interview data were collected from key service delivery stakeholders (n = 5) to assess the feasibility and acceptability of this pilot program.
Eight asylum-seeking patients received medicoforensic nursing services between May 2017 and December 2018. Key benefits of services to clients included accessibility to timely, trauma-informed care by a professional nurse at no cost and with flexible scheduling. Furthermore, the skill sets required to conduct forensic physical evaluations were found to align with sexual assault and forensic nursing scope of practice.
Forensic nurses are well positioned to fill current service delivery gaps to meet the medicolegal needs of this vulnerable population in civil court proceedings. Recommendations of this study may be used by other forensic nurse teams to inform the design and implementation of initiatives to expand the core services of a forensic nursing program to include asylum and immigration-specific medicolegal care.