What is a SANE?
A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a registered nurse who has received the SANE certification through the Texas Attorney General. Specifically, this nurse has been formally trained to:
- Provide comprehensive care to sexual assault survivors;
- Demonstrate competency in conducting a forensic exam to include evaluation for evidence collection;
- Have the expertise to provide effective courtroom testimony; and
- Show compassion and sensitivity to survivors of sexual assault.
What is a medical forensic exam?
A medical forensic exam is performed by medical personnel for the purpose of collecting evidence after a sexual assault. Medical forensic exams are performed on both adult and children survivors of sexual assault or abuse. A medical forensic exam is not a medical treatment; it is an exam for the sole purpose of collecting evidence for use by law enforcement and prosecutors. There are times when the presence or absence of physical evidence discovered during a medical forensic exam does not prove whether a person has been sexually assaulted. However, evidence collected, no matter how seemingly small, typically becomes invaluable to prosecutors attempting to prove a sex crime to a jury.
What happens during a medical forensic exam?
The SANE takes the history to determine whether the survivor has sustained any injuries and for proper treatment. The next step is a head-to-toe examination so the SANE can note any trauma, i.e., head, arms, back, neck, throat, etc. When a survivor has experienced trauma to the genital area (female and male sexual organ), an examination is conducted to identify injuries and document the results. Lastly, the SANE collects forensic evidence and an evidence collection kit is sometimes used.
What is an evidence collection kit?
In conjunction with the sexual assault examination, an evidence collection kit containing a set of items used by medical personnel for gathering and preserving physical evidence is used. The SANE turns over the kit to law enforcement in a crush proof box to protect the contents during transportation to a forensic lab. If the sexual assault took place more than 96 hours prior to the examination, the use of an evidence collection kit may not be necessary.