Clinical Forensic Medicine
The division of Clinical Forensic Medicine (CFM) at the Institute provides a range of clinical services and forensic and clinical medical advice to police and hospitals particularly in the investigation of violent crimes against the person, but also in a range of other criminal offences, such as sexual assault and child abuse.
VIDEO: Forensic Physician, Dr Sanjeev Gaya gives an insight into Clinical Forensic Medicine.
What is Clinical Forensic Medicine?
Clinical Forensic Medicine (CFM) is a medical specialty which deals with the interaction of clinical medicine and the law. While much of our work is focused on the criminal justice system we are also involved in providing expert evidence in relation to civil claims and administrative matters relating to the regulation of licensing of individuals to undertake specific tasks such as driving of different classes of vehicles. We are also involved in the investigation of a variety of health care practitioners who are thought to be impaired and a potential risk to the community,
The division of Clinical Forensic Medicine at the Institute provides a range of ‘hands on’ clinical services and forensic and clinical medical advice to police and hospitals particularly in the investigation of violent crimes against the person, but also in a range of other criminal offences, such as sexual assault and child abuse.
Our team of doctors and nurses include specialists in a range of medical fields including emergency medicine, general practice and sexual health and we maintain a network of hospital specialists such as neurologists, paediatricians and gynaecologists who are able to provide specialist clinical advice in particular forensic cases.
Support and care of victims is an integral part of the medical services we provide. Our aim is to ensure that the health and well being of our patients (whether an alleged victim or an alleged offender) is our highest priority. The services provided by CFM include:
- Physical Assault examinations and expert opinions
- Sexual Assault examinations and expert opinions
- Paediatric Forensic Medicine examinations and expert opinions
- Expert opinions for Police Ethical Standards Investigations
- Expert opinions for the Office of Police Integrity
- Fitness for interview
- Clinical Forensic Nursing
- Traffic medicine
- Clinical aspects of reviewable deaths investigations
- Investigation of the ‘needs of the family’
- General forensic medical consultations
- Medical assistance for Courts including witness and jury medical assessments and care
Occasionally our services are also used to assist in the determination of medico-legal issues in civil or administrative proceedings. While forensic pathologists are involved in the examination of the dead and providing support and health care advice for the families of deceased persons, clinical forensic medicine practitioners are directly involved in the care of living survivors of crime and alleged perpetrators.
Clinical forensic medicine (previously known as the work of ‘police surgeons’) is an increasingly specialised area within the wider field of forensic medical practice. It encompasses a wide range of activities at the interface of medical practice and law.
The range of medico-legal services overlap many other medical specialty areas; paediatrics, gynaecology, clinical toxicology, emergency medicine, psychiatry, dentistry and pathology. Additionally, the discipline of clinical forensic medicine has become the home of the special issues inherent in traffic medicine and custodial medicine.
Our doctors also provide expert advice to court on the effects of alcohol and drugs in relation to driving related offences and where such substances may have impaired the mental state of alleged offenders.
The clinical services are many and varied and include the provision of expert opinions and teaching and research. Post-graduate programs in Forensic Medicine is offered through Monash University.
Clinicians and forensic nurse examiners may work exclusively in the field of clinical forensic medicine, or in the other medical specialties including general practice.
Clinical forensic practitioners include forensic physicians, and forensic nurse examiners. Forensic physicians working at the VIFM provide the bulk of services, supported by a network of specifically trained doctors, usually in general practice, throughout Victoria.
Forensic Nurse Examiners
There are several Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNEs) who are employed by CFM and provide a clinical forensic service in the Melbourne metropolitan and regional areas within Victoria. The bulk of the Forensic Nursing Network exists in the regional areas and these nurses are able to respond to both victims and offenders of physical and sexual assault, conduct forensic medical examinations and provide medico legal reports for Police. There are also FNEs in the Metropolitan area in and provide a clinical forensic service for sexual assault victims and forensic evidence collection.
There are also Forensic Nurses contracted to CFM who provide an after hours Biological Sample Collection service for the metropolitan area. This is a 24 hour service and is provided 7 days a week. This service includes blood/and or urine collection for traffic medicine.
CFM Academic Activities
The VIFM provides teaching in the area of Clinical Forensic Medicine to a wide variety of student groups, including postgraduates at both the University of Melbourne and Monash University in medicine, law, science and criminology. In addition, teaching is provided to police members and trainees, defence force personnel, ambulance officers, community service agencies, private organisations and community groups.
A Postgraduate Program in Forensic Medicine is offered by The Department of Forensic Medicine at Monash University. Since its inception in 1999, the program has expanded to the point where it now offers Certificate, Diploma and Masters Programs. Students from the Americas, South East Asia, Africa, Europe and the Pacific region have successfully completed these programs.
The programs aim to:
- Assist in the establishment of academic standards in forensic medical practice.
- Produce graduates who have a sound broad knowledge of medico-legal principles
- Develop practitioners’ skills in providing forensic services in the community.
For more information about the courses we offer, visit our Course Information page.
The Masters Program offers medical practitioners an opportunity to develop advanced knowledge and skills in forensic medicine via distance education. All students commence by enrolling in the Masters Program. Students can however exit the program at the Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma or Masters levels.
Clinical Forensic Medicine Reports and Research
The Report into the System for Dealing with Multiple Child Deaths.
This is also available at www.dpc.vic.gov.au under Publications
The Death Notification Legislation (Amendment) Act 2004 and the Coroners Act 1985.
Also available at www.parliament.vic.gov.au under Legislation and Bills
The Second Reading Speech for the Death Notification Legislation (Amendment) Act 2004
Also available at www.parliament.vic.gov.au under Hansard.