Standards of evidence for emergency nurses

Emergency nurses have important roles and responsibilities when dealing with potential forensic evidence.

Emergency nurses have important roles and responsibilities when dealing with potential forensic evidence.


Many people who attend emergency departments and urgent care centres may have been involved in road traffic incidents, or are themselves vulnerable adults or children.

In these cases, emergency nurses must safeguard evidence from the scenes of incidents that could prove useful in the elimination, identification and prosecution of suspects. 

They must ensure that such evidence must be retained, transferred and stored so that it does not deteriorate. 


In 2006, the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine was set up as a member organisation of the Medical Royal Colleges to develop and maintain the highest possible standards of competence and professional integrity in forensic and legal medicine. 

The faculty works to improve medical education and training standards in healthcare for vulnerable people. It also offers healthcare professionals useful guidance on how evidence should be handled and collected.

Emergency nurses are most likely to be involved in the transfer of evidence to police officers and, for evidence to be admissible in court, they must ensure the ‘chain of custody’ is upheld.


To this end, emergency nurses must ensure they record the transfer of all information and objects, while simultaneously recording details about the people to whom they are given.

In the evidence & practice article, Opportunities to preserve forensic evidence in emergency departments, custody and forensic nurse Mathew Peel explains the roles and responsibilities of emergency nurses during the identification, collection, documentation and preservation of potential forensic evidence. 

This useful and interesting article will help professionals to ensure that forensic evidence is not unknowingly compromised.

About the author


Tricia Scott is principal lecturer and emergency care research lead at the Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care, University of Hertfordshire, and consultant editor of Emergency Nurse

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