African Journal of Health Professions Education

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Improving the knowledge of clinical forensic medicine among medical graduates: Perspectives of community-service doctors

L Fouché, J Bezuidenhout, A.O. Adefuye


Background. Teaching and learning of clinical forensic medicine (CFM) in the undergraduate medical curriculum is declining, which results in deficient handling of medicolegal cases by doctors. We previously demonstrated that some community-service doctors (CSDs) lack the required competence to assess and document medicolegal cases involving rape/sexual assault, inebriated drivers and common physical assault.

Objective. To obtain the perspectives of CSDs on how medical graduates’ knowledge of CFM can be improved.

Methods. This was a descriptive study using a questionnaire survey to gather qualitative data from 150 CSDs.

Results. Analysis of the comments of the CSDs revealed three core themes, i.e. training, practical work and exposure.

Conclusions. South African courts rely heavily on medicolegal evidence for successful prosecution of physical assault, rape/sexual assault or drunk driving cases. The inept handling, collecting and processing of medicolegal evidence by healthcare providers have been attributed to lack of rigorous training and poor performance standards. It is important that healthcare providers are trained and competent, and possess the skills required to collect evidence and document medicolegal findings correctly.

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