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Forensic Medical Unit’s Research Sheds Light on Abuse in Dark Skin

Story by Adventist HealthCare Staff

The Forensic Medical Unit (FMU) at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center is one of two hospitals in the nation researching the use of alternate light sources to improve the discovery and documentation of bruises across skin color groups.

The research is a potential breakthrough in caring for abuse cases in people of various races and ethnicities. Shady Grove is partnering with Dr. Katherine Scafide of George Mason University in Virginia on the research. In the first round, Dr. Scafide and her team analyzed 2,903 bruises on adults representing six different skin color groups. The researchers tested bruises with alternate light sources (ALS), which are used at crime scenes to find evidence. Bruising and soft tissue injury is more difficult to detect and document in individuals with darker skin tones, but using ALS helped detect bruising during the first few days after inquiry, research found. Currently, Shady Grove Medical Center’s FMU is continuing to partner with researchers as a study site helping to develop an evidence-based practice program.

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