Having the skills necessary to identify cases of non-fatal strangulation is critical to render medical care and protect the patient from future episodes of strangulation or abuse. There are several benefits to training all medical professionals to identify strangulation victims.
Identifying strangulation is necessary to stage interventions by people beyond the medical professionals. If it is suspected a patient was strangled by another person, law enforcement needs to be involved, even if the patient declines to press charges. Sometimes a specially trained detective can use techniques to persuade the patient to identify the perpetrator, especially with intimate partner violence. Another type of intervention that may be necessary is a psychological evaluation if the patient is suspected to have strangled themselves, such as in the case of an attempted hanging. Social workers may need to be involved for suspected abuse.
Non-fatal strangulation may result in internal injuries that are easily overlooked if strangulation is not suspected. Some injuries that may occur include a fractured or broken hyoid bone or injury to the esophagus and trachea. Depending on the extent of the strangulation and how long the person was strangled, important vessels in the neck may have been compressed leading to reduced blood flow to the brain. Prolonged reduction in blood flow can lead to brain damage, some of which could be permanent. Other injuries may also arise based on the way the person was strangled, such as strangling a person and shaking their head back and forth. This could lead to whiplash and coup-contrecoup brain injuries. Suspected strangulation will typically need imaging tests, such as X-ray and CT scans.
Advocate For Special Populations
There are special populations that require someone else to advocate for them. Some examples of special populations include the intellectually disabled, children, and the elderly. In some instances, the patient may not be able to explain what happened or be unable to communicate the event. Another concern is patients who live in certain situations, such as nursing homes, foster care, or assisted living facilities. These patients may not be honest about the situation if the strangulation occurred in this setting because they fear retribution upon returning to the situation. Other concerns are patients with severe problems, such as those in nursing homes, who are comatose and may suffer abuse.
Strangulation can be difficult to detect, especially if there is not obvious bruising around the neck. Training various medical professionals to look for signs of non-fatal strangulation will help patients get the help they need.
Talk to a strangulation trainer to learn more about strangulation chart review.