Characteristics of the Traumatic Forensic Cases Admitted To Emergency Department and Errors in the Forensic Report Writing

Nurettin Aktas, Umut Gulacti, Ugur Lok, Irfan Aydin, Tayfun Borta, Murat Celik

Abstract

Objective: To identify errors in forensic reports and to describe the characteristics of traumatic medico-legal cases presenting to the emergency department (ED) at a tertiary care hospital.

Methods: This study is a retrospective cross-sectional study. The study includes cases resulting in a forensic report among all traumatic patients presenting to the ED of Adiyaman University Training and Research Hospital, Adiyaman, Turkey during a 1-year period. We recorded the demographic characteristics of all the cases, time of presentation to the ED, traumatic characteristics of medico-legal cases, forms of suicide attempt, suspected poisonous substance exposure, the result of follow-up and the type of forensic report.

Results: A total of 4300 traumatic medico-legal cases were included in the study and 72% of these cases were male. Traumatic medico-legal cases occurred at the greatest frequency in July (10.1%) and 28.9% of all cases occurred in summer. The most frequent causes of traumatic medico-legal cases in the ED were traffic accidents (43.4%), violent crime (30.5%), and suicide attempt (7.2%). The most common method of attempted suicide was drug intake (86.4%). 12.3% of traumatic medico-legal cases were hospitalized and 24.2% of those hospitalized were admitted to the orthopedics service. The most common error in forensic reports was the incomplete recording of the patient's “cooperation” status (82.7%). Additionally, external traumatic lesions were not defined in 62.4% of forensic reports.

Conclusion: The majority of traumatic medico-legal cases were male age 18-44 years, the most common source of trauma was traffic accidents and in the summer months. When writing a forensic report, emergency physicians made mistakes in noting physical examination findings and identifying external traumatic lesions. Physicians should make sure that the traumatic medico-legal patients they treat have adequate documentation for reference during legal proceedings. The legal duties and responsibilities of physicians should be emphasized with in-service training.

Keywords

Medico-legal case; Forensic reports; Trauma; Emergency department

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