Sexual assault nurse examiner program to begin at SAMC
SAMC is implementing a program this fall that will deliver precise care and assistance to sexual assault victims. Studies consistently indicate that forensic nurses with subspecialty certification as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) generally provide better and more timely care and are more competent at collecting evidence that meets legal standards (Plichta, Clements, & Houseman, 2007).
"We begin the education component in mid-September and I anticipate a fall beginning date," said Brenda Maddox, MSN, clinical nurse educator, Family Birth Center. "Initially patients will access a SANE nurse through EMS, 911 calls, self referral through the emergency department, or through a primary care physician or gynecologist. Eventually we will establish a contact number that victims can use to contact a SANE nurse directly."
The basic function of SAMC's SANE program will be to provide comprehensive medico-legal examinations; timely and accurate collection of forensic evidence; collaborate with physicians, local law enforcement, city and county prosecutors and victim advocates to provide complete care for patients, ensure safety, and maintain chain of evidence.
Currently there is no formal program to assist sexual assault victims in the Wiregrass. Victims are processed through the ED the same as any other non-critical patient. The SANE program will offer a competent and compassionate way for sexual assault victims to receive care quickly and in a safe environment where they are considered the priority.
Maddox stated that in 2013, 122 rapes were reported among women age 18 and older in the Wiregrass area. The region's incidence of rape is slightly higher than the state average. "We expect that as this program gains recognition there will be a rise in reported cases because victims will know where to go and what to do," Maddox added.
The following services will be offered: referral to ER/GYN services as needed, a comprehensive forensic exam and evidence collection for increased convictions, STI and pregnancy evaluation and treatment, an advocate through House of Ruth, and referral for post care.
Nurses wishing to become SANEs must have two years of experience as a registered nurse at SAMC, along with a current RN license and successful completion of SANE training. After a year in the SANE program, two continuing education units in forensics must be completed annually.