Medico-legal and ethical aspects of nasal fractures secondary to assault: do we owe a duty of care to advise patients to have a facial x-ray?

J Med Ethics. 2013 Feb;39(2):125-6. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2011-100155. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


Guidelines advise that x-rays do not contribute to the clinical management of simple nasal fractures. However, in cases of simple nasal fracture secondary to assault, a facial x-ray may provide additional legal evidence should the victim wish to press charges, though there is no published guidance. We examine the ethical and medico-legal issues surrounding this controversial area.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling / ethics*
  • Criminal Law
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Humans
  • Nasal Bone / diagnostic imaging*
  • Nasal Bone / injuries*
  • Photography
  • Radiography / adverse effects
  • Radiography / ethics
  • Radiography / statistics & numerical data
  • Skull Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • United Kingdom
  • Violence*