Clinical Forensic Medicine, a term now commonly used to refer to that branch of medicine involving an interaction among the law, the judiciary, and the police, and usually concerning living persons, is emerging as a speciality in its own right. There have been enormous developments in the subject in the last decade, with an increasing amount of published research that needs to be brought together in a handbook such as A Physician's Guide to Clinical Forensic Medicine. The role of the healthcare professional in this field must be independent, professional, courteous, and nonjudgmental, as well as well-trained and informed. This is essential for the care of victims and suspects, for the criminal justice system, and for society as a whole.
As we enter the 21st century it is important that healthcare professionals are "forensically aware." Inadequate or incorrect diagnosis of a wound, for example, may have an effect on the clinical management of an individual, as well as a significant influence on any subsequent criminal investigation and court proceedings. A death in police custody resulting from failure to identify a vulnerable individual is an avoidable tragedy. Although training in clinical forensic medicine at the undergraduate level is variable, once qualified, every doctor will have contact with legal matters to a varying degree.
A Physician's Guide to Clinical Forensic Medicine concentrates on the clinical aspects of forensic medicine, as opposed to the pathological, by endeavoring to look at issues from fundamental principles, including recent research developments where appropriate. It is written primarily for physicians and nurses working in the field of clinical forensic medicine-forensic medical examiners, police surgeons, accident and emergency room physicians, pediatricians, gynecologists, and forensic and psychiatric nurses-but such other health care professionals as social workers and the police will also find the contents of use.