Classification of Wounds
Any doctor may be asked to examine a person who has been wounded, particularly in casualty.
Forensic physicians and pathologists are also asked to examine wounds, whether they are serious or trivial, and whether the injured person is alive or dead.
The identification and description of wounds may have serious medico-legal implications at a later stage, and often after some considerable time has passed since the wounding. It is therefore essential that different types of wounds can be correctly identified and described, with a full description being made in notes taken at the time of, or shortly after the examination ('contemporaneous notes').
A wound is the term given to tissue damage caused by mechanical force. This includes wounds caused by stabbing, blunt trauma (punching, kicking, beating etc), strangling, biting, shooting, falling from a height, being hit by a vehicle, and blast trauma from explosives.
Descriptions of wounds must include,
the nature of the wound, ie whether it is a bruise, abrasion or laceration etc
the wound dimensions, eg length, width, depth etc. It is helpful to take a photograph of the wound with an indication of dimension (eg a tape measure placed next to the wound), and for measurements to be taken of the wound as it appears first, and then with wound edges drawn together (if it is a laceration etc).
the position of the wound in relation to fixed anatomical landmarks, eg distance from the midline, below the clavicle etc
the height of the wound from the heel (ie ground level) - this is particularly important in cases where pedestrians have been struck by motor vehicles
The following pages will illustrate the main types of wounds, including
Some Research into Wound Analysis
Criminal Mutilation of the Human Body in Sweden—A Thirty-Year Medico-Legal and Forensic Psychiatric Study, Jovan Rajs, Maja Lunostrom, Magnus Brobero, Lars Lidhero, And Olle Lindquist, Journal of Forensic Sciences 43:3 p563-581 (1998)
Interpretation Of Fatal, Multiple, And Exiting Gunshot Wounds By Trauma Specialists, Collins, Kim A.; Lantz, Patrick E., Journal Of Forensic Sciences 39:1. (1/94). p94-99, 1994
Identification Of Gunpowder In Healed Wounds, Smith, O. C.; Berryman, H. E.; Symes, S. A.; LeVaughn, M. M., Journal Of Forensic Sciences 38:3. (5/93). p739-741, 1993
Characteristic Features Of Entrance Wounds From Hollow-Point Bullets, Smith, O'Brian C.; Symes, Steven A.; Berryman, Hugh E.; LeVaughn, Mark M., Journal Of Forensic Sciences 38:2. (3/93). p323-326, 1993
Interpretation Of Unusual Wounds Caused By Firearms, Stone, Irving C.; Petty, Charles S., Journal Of Forensic Sciences 36:3. (5/91). p736-740, 1991
External Beveling Of Cranial Gunshot Entrance Wounds, Peterson, Brian L., Journal Of Forensic Sciences 36:5. (9/91). p1592-1595, 1991
Reflective Ultraviolet Imagining System (RUVIS) And The Detection Of Trace Evidence And Wounds On Human Skin, West, Michael H.; Barsley, Robert E.; Frair, John; Hall, Fred, Journal Of Forensic Identification 40:5. (9-10/90). p249-255, 1990
Fatal Arrow Wounds, Hain, John R., Journal Of Forensic Sciences 34:3. (5/89). p691-693, 1989
Comparison Of Gunshot Wounds And Field-Tipped Arrow Wounds Using Morpholic Criteria And Chemical Tests, Randall, Brad; Newby, Paul, Journal Of Forensic Sciences 34:3. (5/89). p579-586, 1989
Ultraviolet Photography Of Wounds On Human Skin, West, Michael H.; Friar, John A.; Seal, Michael D., Journal Of Forensic Identification 39:2. (3-4/89). p87-96, 1989
Suicidal Contact Wounds To The Head With 38 Special Glaser Safety Slug Ammunition, Jones, Allen M.; Reyna, Morris, Jr.; Sperry, Kris; Hock, David, Journal Of Forensic Sciences 32:6. (11/87). p1604-1621, 1987
Cranial Fracture Patterns And Estimate Of Direction From Low Velocity Gunshot Wounds, Smith, O'Brien C.; Berryman, Hugh E.; Lahren, Craig H., Journal Of Forensic Sciences 32:5. (9/87). p1416-1421, 1987