Digital photo documentation of forensically relevant injuries as part of the clinical first response protocol [Digitale fotodokumentation im rahmen der klinischen erstversorgung: forensisch relevante verletzungsbefunde]
Verhoff M.A.,Justus Liebig University |
Kettner M.,Frankfurt Am Main University Hospital |
Laszik A.,Semmelweis University |
Ramsthaler F.,Frankfurt Am Main University Hospital
Deutsches Arzteblatt International | Year: 2012
Background: A problem encountered by medical examiners is that they have to assess injuries that have already been medically treated. Thus, they have to base their reports on clinical forensic examinations per formed hours or days after an injury was sustained, or even base their assessment solely on information gleaned from medical files. In both scenarios, the forensic examiner has to rely heavily on the first responder's documentation of the original injury pattern. Medical priority will be to immediately treat a patient's injuries, and the first responder may, in addition, initially be unaware of a possibly criminal origin of an injury. As a result, the documentation of injuries is frequently of limited value for forensic purposes. This situation could be improved if photographic records were briefly made of injuries before they were treated. Methods: German-language medicolegal, criminal, and photography journals and books were selectively searched with the help of PubMed and other databases. In addition, the authors' experiences in creating and evaluating photographic records for clinical forensic use were assessed. Results: This paper is an aid to creating photographic records of sufficient quality for forensic purposes. The options provided by digital photography in particular make this endeavor feasible even in a clinical setting. In addition, our paper illuminates some technical aspects of creating and archiving photographic records for forensic use, and addresses possible error sources. Conclusion: With the requisite technical background knowledge, injuries can be photographically recorded to forensic standards during patient care.