What is a SANE or a forensic nurse?
SANE stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, but this is a bit misleading, as a SANE or Forensic Nurse, does more than just sexual assault exams. A Forensic Nurse is a Registered Nurse who is specially trained to provide comprehensive care to trauma patients; they are able to identify physical trauma and psychological needs. They have training and knowledge about the neurobiology of trauma, and deliver trauma informed care. Forensic nurses also testify as an expert witness in court.
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Types of Exams
We do medical forensic exams for ALL ages – acute and delayed disclosure. Click through the types of exams for more information.
This exam is a head to toe check up with a genital exam to ensure your body is healthy and has healed or is healing from recent or past trauma. It is also a good opportunity to assess the need to treat or test for sexually transmitted infections and to connect with important post-assault resources. Minors under 18 must report to Law Enforcement but adults have the option to report your assault. Even if not reporting, it is still very important to be seen by a SANE nurse.
Strangulations can be deadly! Sometimes after a strangulation you may feel fine but you can still have internal injury that we can’t see with our eyes. We recommend all strangulation survivors have medical care as soon as possible. Our SANE nurses can do a full strangulation medical forensic exam once emergent needs have been addressed. A strangulation exam is a very detailed head to toe exam. It includes documentation of injuries, safety planning and follow up. If we see you before you’ve gone to the Emergency Department, we can help arrange transportation there for an assessment of any emergent needs. If you choose not to report this event to Law Enforcement, we can still provide care to you.
All injuries, even minor, should be documented with photos and an injury log, even if you are not reporting to Law Enforcement. A SANE exam is a very comprehensive head to toe exam that includes photos of your injury. We typically like to see you back for follow up pictures for documentation and to connect you with needed post-assault resources. Our SANE nurses can also review a safety plan with you.
SANE nurses can provide very detailed head to toe examinations in cases of physical abuse. The exam includes photo documentation and an injury log.
A SANE nurse can collect biological evidence for Law Enforcement from suspects when there is a court order. SANE nurses are ideal for this as we have been trained in evidence collection and how to maintain chain of custody.
It is very important to document resolution of injury. Our SANE nurse may ask to see you back for follow up to ensure your body has healed. We may also ask you to follow up for continued testing for sexually transmitted infections. Our follow up exams are a great opportunity for us to assess how you are healing emotionally. We can assist with needed post-assault resources.
A SANE nurse can assist Law Enforcement with blood draws of people under arrest for suspicion of crimes. SANE nurses are ideal for this as we have been trained in evidence collection and how to maintain chain of custody.
Human trafficking exists everywhere. It is important we are asking the right questions to identify those who may be in need. SANE nurses use validated questions to screen for possible trafficked victims. If identified, we can assist in the connection of vital resources and report to Law Enforcement. We want all of our patients to be safe.
We work alongside dedicated members of the GRIC Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples Task Force and assist with community education and awareness.
What is a SANE exam?
A SANE exam is a comprehensive health exam for survivors of sexual assault. It is also referred to as a Medical Forensic Exam. Exams are completed by medical providers, typically Registered Nurses, who have completed additional education and training to care for both the acute and long term consequences of sexual violence, abuse and neglect. A SANE exam may include evidence collection, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections including HIV, pregnancy prevention, and referrals for follow up services such as victim advocacy and counseling.
For minors under the age of 18, prior to the patient’s SANE exam, a Police Officer or Detective will work with them to set up a Forensic Interview. A forensic interview is a supportive, non-leading interview conducted by a trained professional; it is designed to elicit a child’s unique information when there are concerns of abuse or if a child has witnessed violence against another person. A SANE nurse can then complete a head to toe medical “check up” to ensure their body is healthy and to ensure health, safety and psychosocial needs are met.
For adults that are willing to participate in a Law Enforcement investigation, Law Enforcement should be notified immediately to gather initial information including when the assault took place. Medical providers should assess the patient quickly to ensure there are no emergent medical needs that need to be addressed prior to having a SANE exam, keeping in mind evidence integrity whenever possible. Medical providers and Law Enforcement should notify SANE early in these cases so we can assist with advising patients of their options.
Adults may decide not to report their assault to Law Enforcement. That is OK! SANE nurses should still be involved early in these cases to help explain medical options to these patients. It is still very important they have a detailed head to toe exam, including a genital exam to ensure their body is healthy. They will also need an evaluation and/or treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
It is also extremely important to involve our advocates, the Crime Victims Specialist team. Not only can they provide emotional support for our patients during this time of trauma, but they can also explain the importance of a SANE exam and provide important post-assault resources and wellness information.
Every case is unique.
Please call SANE clinic for guidance or questions.
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Crime Victim Specialists:
SANE Medical Director (urgent matters):
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