BACKGROUND : Patients who suffer violent, crime related injuries are likely to seek medical assistance in emergency departments. Forensic patients may not disclose the cause of their injuries leading to the impairment of evidence. We explored healthcare providers’ perceptions of forensic patients and how they should be cared for. METHOD : The perceptions of physicians and nurses regarding the profiles and care of forensic patients were explored in three urban emergency departments. The data were collected through a talking wall and analysed collaboratively, with the participants, using content analysis. RESULTS : Healthcare providers in emergency departments differentiated between living and deceased forensic patients. Healthcare providers identified living forensic patients as victims of sexual assault, assault, gunshots and stab wounds, and abused children. Deceased patients included patients that were dead on arrival or died in the emergency departments. Healthcare providers acknowledged that evidence should be collected, preserved and documented. CONCLUSION : Every trauma patient in the emergency department should be treated as a forensic patient until otherwise proven. If healthcare providers are unable to identify forensic patients and collect the evidence present, the patients’ human right to justice will be violated.