Minimising bias in the forensic evaluation of suspicious paediatric injury

Skellern, Catherine (2015) Minimising bias in the forensic evaluation of suspicious paediatric injury. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 34 11-16. doi:10.1016/j.jflm.2015.05.002

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Author Skellern, Catherine
Title Minimising bias in the forensic evaluation of suspicious paediatric injury
Journal name Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1752-928X
1532-2009
Publication date 2015-08-02
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jflm.2015.05.002
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 34
Start page 11
End page 16
Total pages 6
Place of publication Kidlington, United Kingdom
Publisher Churchill Livingstone
Collection year 2016
Abstract In the rules of evidence in all legal jurisdictions, medical experts are required to maintain objectivity when providing opinions. When interpreting medical evidence, doctors must recognise, acknowledge and manage uncertainties to ensure their evidence is reliable to legal decision-makers. Even in the forensic sciences such as DNA analysis, implicit bias has been shown to influence how results are interpreted from cognitive and contextual biases unconsciously operating. In cases involving allegations of child abuse there has been significant exposure in the media, popular magazines, legal journals and in the published medical literature debating the reliability of medical evidence given in these proceedings. In these cases judges have historically been critical of experts they perceived had sacrificed objectivity for advocacy by having an investment in a 'side'. This paper firstly discusses the issue of bias then describes types of cognitive biases identified from psychological research applied to forensic evidence including adversarial bias, context bias, confirmation bias and explains how terminology can influence the communication of opinion. It follows with previously published guidelines of how to reduce the risk of bias compromising objectivity in forensic practices then concludes with my own recommendations of practices that can be used by child protection paediatricians and within an organisation when conducting forensic evaluations of suspicious childhood injury to improve objectivity in formulation of opinion evidence.
Keyword Bias
Forensic medicine
Injury
Medical uncertainty
Paediatric
Suspicious
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Medicine Publications
 
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