Medical & Health

SANE : Sexual Assualt Nurse Examiners

Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) are specially-trained, registered nurses who have completed education in order to properly examine a patient who has experienced sexual assault or sexual abuse.

A SANE is an important part of a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), a group of professionals from different areas that collaborate together to develop a plan of care for sexual assault victims.

One of the most significant contributions SANEs make to a victim’s care is the Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE). During this exam, the SANE performs a detailed

physical and emotional assessment the victim, produces written and photographic documentation of injuries, collects and manages forensic samples, and provides the victim with emotional and social support and resources. At the end of the day, the results of the SAFE examination can be some of the most influential evidence supporting the sexual assault victim’s version of events.

Accordingly, SANEs often testify at trial, describing the results of the SAFE examination or explaining their observations about the victim.  The fact SANEs can testify at trial should not discourage victims from seeking their services.  Without an appropriate court process (i.e., a court order, subpoena, or a discovery request), SANEs must keep the results of their exams and the identity of the victim strictly confidential.

Because they play such a critical role in responding to sexual assault and in prosecuting sexual assault crimes, it is not easy to become a SANE.  First, to become a SANE, a person must first be a registered nurse.  Nurses with experience in emergency rooms, critical care, and maternal health issues are preferred, because they often have the skillset to address issues associated with sexual assault.  Also, if a Nurse wishes to become a SANE, that nurse should inquire about the requirements in her jurisdiction; the requirements are not standardized. 

Requirements vary significantly, and each state, province, or country Board of Nursing/College of Nursing may have different requirements for SANE practice.

Nurses who have obtained SANE training can take board certification examination through the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), the premier governing body of SANEs 

The (SANE-A) or pediatric (SANE-P) board certification tests are for SANE caring for the specific populations of adult/adolescent patients or pediatric patients. The eligibility requirements for board certification include: the completion of a forty hour classroom training and the successful completion of a clinical component to that training to ensure that she is competent to care for sexual assault patients.

SANE: Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

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*National Tribal Trial College is a project of the Southwest Center for Law and Policy (www.swclap.org) This project was supported by Grant No. 2011-TA-AX-K045, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.