Clinical Forensic Medicine
Clinical Forensic Medicine (CFM) is the area of forensic medicine that relates to the medical examination and assessment of the living. It involves maintaining a fine balance between sound medical principles (eg: first do no harm) for the patient and the expectations of the justice system for probative evidence. Specific areas of clinical forensic expertise at VIFM include:
Examination and first line treatment of victims of crimes against the person and the documentation and interpretation of their injuries.
Examination and first line treatment of police detainees.
Assessment of fitness to be interviewed.
Assessment and medico-legal opinions involving traffic medicine.
Assessment and expert opinions regarding the clinical effects of alcohol and drugs in a range of circumstances.
Clinical Forensic Medicine also has a significant public health and safety role. Research based on clinical forensic examination results have the potential to contribute to injury and death prevention, especially in the fields of interpersonal violence, drug usage and road trauma, and this can contribute significantly to public health and justice policy development.
Our Forensic Physicians provide a 24/7 response throughout Victoria via a network of Forensic Medical Officers (FMOs) and Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNEs). We operate in six main areas:
Adult Physical Assault
The forensic medical assessment of physical injuries provides objective evidence of injuries sustained in a physical assault. It is vital that the injuries are documented accurately and interpreted expertly. Our involvement often includes other specialist services such as the collection of forensic specimens and the examination of victims of family violence. This is a niche area requiring appropriate immediate and ongoing forensic and medical/emotional management.
We also specialise in the examination of offenders. Our doctors are experts in understanding the consent and legal basis for offender examinations.
Service to Police Detainees
To conduct fitness for interview examinations, our staff require skills and expertise in understanding human rights, investigatory requirements and an understanding of the law. Fitness for Interview assessments are often subject to intense legal scrutiny and our forensic physicians require a level of expertise that can withstand rigorous cross examination. An important aspect of this service is its role in the prevention of injury and deaths in custody.
Case Review For the Coroner
Our specialists review cases and provide opinions on medical management as requested by the coroner, including detailed examinations of medical and psychiatric files on matters related to the death of an individual. In some circumstances this investigation is related to the inappropriate or negligent medical management of a person. As a result of this, we can provide information relating to the potential areas of improvement in patient care.
Adult Sexual Assault
The examination of people who have been sexually assaulted is a specialised area requiring an integrated approach from a number of health professionals. We provide a 24-hour forensic medical service for police and hospitals.
Traffic medicine is a sub-specialty requiring close cooperation between policing, scientific, regulatory, medical and technical groups. We are the medical advisor to VicRoads, the Victorian Taxi Directorate and Worksafe and provide opinions regarding the suitability on medical grounds for the holding of the various licences, certificates and permits issued by those authorities.
The VIFM provides family violence services via our Clinical Forensic Medicine (CFM) and Forensic Pathology departments.
Our CFM practitioners assess both victims and perpetrators, and provide expert opinions on cases across all examination types, namely physical assault, sexual assault and fitness for police interview.
We are also involved in a Pilot at the Dandenong Multi Disciplinary Centre as part of a Victorian Police response to Recommendation 101 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.