What is Strangulation?
Not to be confused with “choking”, strangulation refers to when pressure is applied from the outside, cutting off airflow and/or blood vessels in the neck, preventing oxygen from reaching the brain. Choking, meanwhile, refers to a blockage inside the throat which makes it hard to breathe.
During an incident of strangulation, the closure of the airway makes breathing impossible, and a victim may lose consciousness due to the restriction of blood flow to and from the brain. Strangulation can impede the carotid arteries in the neck, causing oxygen deprivation to the brain. Additionally, unconsciousness may result from the blockage of jugular veins, preventing deoxygenated blood from exiting the brain.
Strangulation can have severe consequences, including death, stroke, miscarriage in pregnant individuals, brain damage, pneumonitis, heart attacks, and even delayed death, occurring days or even weeks after the assault. It’s alarming that victims can lose consciousness in as little as 10 seconds with just 4 pounds of pressure, which is less than the force required to pull the trigger on a pistol.
What is a Strangulation Forensic Nursing Exam?
This is a comprehensive medical examination conducted by a specialized certified Forensic Nurse, specifically trained to perform a Forensic Medical Examination for victims of strangulation. The examination includes the following key components:
- Patient Consent and Assent: The patient provides consent and maintains ongoing assent throughout the examination process.
- Medical History and Assault Account: The patient furnishes their medical history and provides details about the strangulation incident. This information enables the nurse to assess and determine the necessary medical care.
- Head-to-Toe Nursing Assessment: This involves a thorough assessment of vital signs, along with measurements and documentation of any signs or symptoms of strangulation that the patient may have experienced or is currently experiencing.
- Photo Documentation: If the patient consents, the nurse documents the patient’s condition, clothing condition, and any injuries through photo-documentation.
- ER Referral Assessment: The nurse assesses whether the patient needs to be seen by a physician in the emergency room for potential imaging or further evaluation.
- Education and Resources: The nurse educates the patient on signs and symptoms that may develop in the days following strangulation, how to monitor their condition, where to access counseling, additional medical assistance if needed, and other resources related to safety and any other requirements. Encouragement is given for a follow-up appointment for continued monitoring and a general check-up with the patient.
Note: Photographic documentation is captured using the SDFI system and stored with AES 256 Bit Encryption along with Passphrase Protection. It’s essential to understand that these photographs are not immediately shared with ANYONE. All photographs are treated as evidence and can only be released to Law Enforcement or any other party with a valid subpoena issued by a judge. We prioritize and take your privacy extremely seriously, and every precaution is taken to ensure the security and confidentiality of this sensitive information.