Can Telehealth Provide Timely and Equitable Quality Medical Forensic Services? Perspectives of Illinois Hospital Administrators

Marlise Jeanne Pierre-Wright*, Lisa Mathey, Heather J. Risser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction Research has shown the viability of telehealth consultations to provide medical forensic services, particularly in areas with a dearth of medical examiners. This study examined Illinois hospital administrators' willingness to utilize telehealth to meet new requirements under Illinois Public Act 100-0775, which intends to increase timely access to quality forensic examiners. Consequently, as of March 2021, roughly half of Illinois hospitals unable to meet these requirements have opted not to treat some or all patients presenting for medical forensic services of sexual assault. Methods We surveyed and conducted in-depth interviews (between October 2020 and April 2021) with 65 hospital administrators responsible for implementing Illinois Public Act 100-0775. Descriptive statistical analysis was used to analyze survey results. Results Our study found limited staffing resources and difficulties educating and training new forensic medical examiners were the major barriers to providing acute medical forensic services. The overwhelming majority of respondents (95%) saw opportunities to use telehealth across all aspects of the medical forsenic evaluation. Barriers to implementing telehealth included perceived patient discomfort with telehealth technology and current legislative restrictions. Discussion Legislative efforts to mandate timely access to qualified medical forensic examiners can unintentionally exacerbate disparities in access to care. Illinois hospital administrators are receptive to utilizing telehealth to improve access to forensic examiners, particularly in lower-resourced hospitals. Conclusion One method for responding to staffing shortages and improving equitable access to forensic sexual assault services may include implementing networks of qualified forensic examiners that support on-site clinicians in lower-resourced areas via telehealth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-230
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Forensic Nursing
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023

Keywords

  • Forensic nurse
  • sexual assault
  • state regulations
  • telehealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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