Sexual Assault Response: Increasing Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Availability and Access Statewide

  • January 13, 2020

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Best Practices

Recently, the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy (OCVA) collaborated with researcher and writer Austin Scharff to produce a report to the legislator entitled Sexual Assault Response: Increasing Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Availability and Access Statewide (2018).

The report includes statewide-standardized terminology, hospital response models and maps of hospitals offering sexual assault forensic exams.

Importantly, the report contains policy recommendations for the state legislature (p. 34-39), including:

    • Scholarships for nurses to attend training.
    • Resources for a statewide training and technical assistance program.
    • Coordination between hospitals and Crime Victims Compensation Program.

An important finding of this report is that no state employs “mobile” sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) teams. This report, and a study conducted by the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services, found that no such model exists in practice and the idea is operationally impractical (see “What Is a Mobile Team?”).

Local communities looking to make SANEs more mobile can consider the centralized dispatch model, centralized transfer model, or the decentralized dispatch model.

In addition, best practices are recommended for responding to sexual assault, including:

    • Adult and adolescent patients
    • Pediatric patients
    • Creating and maintaining sexual assault response teams or multidisciplinary teams
    •  Partnerships between hospitals

We look forward to building on the momentum of this report and improving responses for survivors. Please visit OCVA’s website for more information about Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner best practices. To attend a training or receive technical assistance, contact Harborview Abuse and Trauma Center. If you need to locate a hospital or nurse, check WASafe.org for the nearest facility.

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