Blood is the most common and possibly most important evidence in the solving of certain types of crimes. Nothing has been found to provide a better substitute for blood analysis. Its presence has the keen ability to link a suspect and a victim, or a suspect to a location. There are many obstacles standing in the way of accurately analyzing the case, though, forensic nurses and legal nurse consultants work to stay a few steps ahead in testing methodology as well as the legal proceedings.
A Brief History of Blood Typing
Before the days of blood typing analysis, in order to solve a crime, detectives were forced to rely on their own instincts and an often harshly-extracted suspect confession. The late 1800s introduced the science of fingerprinting, but it was in 1900 that Paul Uhlenhuth conducted a series of experiments that started the ball rolling towards a forever change in the process of blood sample testing. Uhlenhuth created the precipitin test, which involved a serum that reacted to human blood. His process involved dissolving blood evidence in a saltwater solution and then adding that to his developed serum, which cause the darkening of human blood via the precipitation of a protein.
In 1901, Karl Landsteiner discovered ABO blood groups. In 1904, a case was closed due to Landsteiner’s research and the birth of blood analysis was born.
At that time the tests had certain critical limitations, including the fact that some blood types could not be accurately identified while in the presence of others. If several blood types were evident in a blood sample, none of the samples could be separated enough to prove anything concrete. Some years later, around 1937, scientists discovered a series of antigen-antibody reactions in blood. More than 100 antigens exist with 23 blood group systems based on these antigens. The year 1966 brought a new clarification to the process when English scientist Brian Culliford made the discovery that blood protein was as unique as a fingerprint, which served as the standard until the later arrival of DNA Fingerprinting. It was in the mid-1980s that nurses began assisting with criminal cases that had something to do with health-related issues.
The Effect of Blood Typing on the Nursing Field
While medicine has certainly benefitted from this discovery, the nursing field has taken this innovation and used it to effectively help when it comes to interpreting blood results from the lab and in its use criminal cases. It even created a hybrid position for nurses that want to focus in the justice system: A legal nurse consultant (LNC).
Blood typing and advances in forensics have allowed forensic nurses and legal nurse consultants to efficiently and accurately diagnose medical malpractice, personal injury, nursing home problems, and other complex medical issues. They are also able to collaborate, or strategize, with attorneys from nearly any type of practice to the point of possibly ruling out certain suspects while zeroing in on others. LNCs also can help critically analyze healthcare records, medical literature, and any other pertinent information for medical-legal cases and claims.
LNCs have essentially become the bridge between the nursing and legal fields and they can practice in a number of different places such as:
- Law Firms
- Government agencies
- Insurance companies
- Business and industry legal departments
- Self-employed independent practices
Modern Day Forensics and Blood Typing
Blood typing, when conducted accurately, is a valuable piece of evidence for forensic nurses, helping to pinpoint individuals and their relation to the crime. Human blood includes over 100 different antigens, which could be impractical and time-consuming to test for each antigen during the already-complicated process of crime solution. LNCs instead incorporate a number of different blood testing techniques, specifically the ABO system, which involves examining the surface of the red blood cells for two antigens known as A and B, with blood type being named after the type of antigens it contains, including A, B, AB and O. The basic foundation of serology states that for every antigen, a specific antibody is in existence.
Blood types, in their most basic forms, can help to categorize a person by their descent. For example, Blood Type O is common among Native Americans and Latin Americans, while type A is seen most often in Caucasians and persons of European origin. Type B is seen commonly among African Americans and AB is most frequent in Japanese individuals. This simple type of classification can be essential for a forensic nurse when analyzing a case.
In the collection of biological evidence from blood samples, wet blood offers significantly more testability than dried blood, and blood begins to dry after five minutes of air exposure. This is especially relevant in the testing for drugs or alcohol.
Qualified legal nurse consultants or forensic nurses can not only present excellent analysis of evidentiary blood samples, but also an irreplaceable piece of testimony in the criminal court.
The professions of Forensic Nurses and Legal Nursing Consultants consistently require those with higher education, and now is the right time for you to expand your career possibilities with an online Master of Science in Nursing degree from Loyola University New Orleans. This valuable opportunity is offered in a flexible online platform, allowing you to continue your profession while furthering your chances for advancement in the field of nursing.