Care for Gang Members Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

There are some situations and outcomes within the healthcare industry where it is important to pay attention to what happens, what could be done, what should be done and why all of the above is true. Indeed, one of those things would be the treatment of gang members in emergency room and similar situations. When gang members engage in violence with knives and guns, they commonly end up in emergency rooms seeking treatment. As part of that eventuality, the healthcare staff present at the time is supposed to keep an eye out for visits to their facilities that are indicative of criminal and/or gang activity occurring. This idea would mostly include the physicians. However, the nurses and other important personnel present would matter as well. Gang members showing up with shooting or stabbing wounds would be an obvious example of this. While there can be a steep learning curve and keeping on task can be daunting, physicians and other professionals in such a happenstance need to know and study the tattoos and other signs of these gang members as it can be indicative of their background and why they are in the situation that they are in.


One of the more seminal and important works on the subject in question came in 1999 with the work of Malton and Russell. Indeed, they noted that emergency physicians that service areas with a high amount of gang violence should be well-versed on gang tattoos and what they mean. This can be very important for when the information is relayed to law enforcement personnel. It can also be data that is clinically relevant and important for healthcare workers to know (Malton & Russell, 1999). Since the work of Malton and Russell, there have been many other scholarly works and treatises that have helped inform the best practices and procedure that emergency room physicians should complete. For example, the work of Urdang, Mallek and Malton (the same Malton as before) in 2011 says much the same thing. However, that work references both tattoos and piercings as being important when it comes to any inventory of a patient in terms of their markings and body characteristics. Obviously, their health status and injuries matter greatly. However, the tattoos and piercings matter as well. Both tattoos and piercings are commonly classified in the medical community as body modifications, or BM. As the body modification movement, especially among gangs, as evolved and changed, it is important for physicians to know how these changes and patterns are important. This is true from an inventory/summary perspective as well as the medical implications that are created from these bodily alterations (Urdang, Mallek & Malton, 2011).

Even with the fact that the inventory and consideration of tattoos and other body modifications is important, it is also wise to not react too much or too extensively. Indeed, there are some parties and agencies that use a great amount of discretion and create a number of problematic consequences. While this mostly pertains to immigration enforcement agencies more than any other body, the same could be true of emergency room physicians. Regardless of the forum, there should be a focus on defining what is called for, what is required and why. After all relevant incidents and outcomes, there should be a review and summary of what happened. In other words, there should be a post-mortem, if you will. Even if it is just a verification that everything was done correctly, doctors and administrative/legal executives in power should ensure that there is no abuse of the above protocols or lack thereof. For example, not every tattoo is a gang-related tattoo. It might be but many people that get tattoos are not criminals or in gangs. Further, there are some symbols and patterns that are fairly common and ubiquitous. To use religion as an example, a pentagram could be the sign of a person that is wiccan or pagan. However, it could also be the sign of a person that believes in Satanism or something similar. That often comes down to which way the pentagram is pointing, up or down. Other people use pentagrams for entirely different reasons, and that would include gangs. The lesson is that documentation and review is important. However, jumping to conclusions is less than wise. Again, there should be an adherence to proceeding with due diligence that is present along with a bit of caution before reacting in a way that is incorrect or over the top (Hufstader, 2015).

A part of the point made above is echoed in another source reviewed for this report, that being the concept of assuming someone that is tattooed (or pierced) is a criminal. It can be an indication of gang or other criminal activity. Indeed, there are many that hold that tattoos among teenagers…

Sources Used in Document:


Bourke, M. L., Prestridge, D., & Malterer, M. B. (2016). Interdiction for the protection of children: Preventing sexual exploitation one traffic stop at a time. Aggression & Violent Behavior30(U.S. Marshals Service and FBI), 68-75. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2016.07.009

Hufstader, R. A. (2015). Immigration reliance on gang databases: Unchecked discretion & undesirable consequences. New York University Law Review90671.

Liao, P., Chang, H., & Su, Y. (2014). Is Tattooing a Risk Factor for Adolescents' Criminal Behavior? Empirical Evidence from an Administrative Data Set of Juvenile Detainees in Taiwan. Risk Analysis: An International Journal34(12), 2080-2088. doi:10.1111/risa.12232

Mallon, W.K. & Russell, M.A. (1999). Clinical and forensic significance of tattoos. Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal 21(3): 21-29.

Urdang, M., Mallek, J. T., & Mallon, W. K. (2011). Tattoos and piercings: A review for the emergency physician. Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care With Population Health12(4), 393-398. doi:10.5811/westjem.2011.4.2268

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