Preservation And Collection Of Evidence

Preservation of blood samples, missiles, and debris found in wounds may be extremely valuable in identifying a particular weapon and tying this weapon to an assailant. However, this evidence is useful only if a proper chain of custody has been established. In handling such evidence, EDs should follow a protocol developed in consultation with the local law-enforcement agency. The use of a simple envelope that enables a physician to identify the patient, the date the evidence was recovered, where it was recovered from, and to whom it was given, and signed by the physician is adequate for establishing the chain of custody. Use of an appropriate receipt form documenting the transfer of this evidence should be an essential part of the medical record.

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