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What Is a SANE?

A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is a registered nurse who completed additional education and training to provide comprehensive health care to survivors of sexual assault. In some communities, SANEs are called Forensic Nurse Examiners. Other categories of providers, such as physicians or physician assistants, may use the title Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner, Sexual Assault Examiner (Indian Health Services), or Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examiner (military). For this Guide, the term SANE will encompass all similar providers.

In order to offer comprehensive care, the role of the SANE includes evaluating and treating the patient in a holistic way, being mindful of both the acute and long-term consequences of sexual violence victimization. The SANE can gather a culturally and developmentally appropriate medical history and a history of the assault, with an essential understanding of the medical and legal implications of both. Gathering this history lays a foundation to offer the patient suitable options in care, which may include forensic evidence collection, testing and treatment or prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), pregnancy prevention, and immediate and followup services with community-based sexual assault advocacy, and medical and law enforcement partners. The SANE ultimately provides culturally sensitive, developmentally appropriate, trauma-informed, and patient-specific evaluation and treatment. SANEs are also prepared to testify in a criminal or civil trial as a fact or expert witness when necessary, and understands the ethical obligations of their testimony and the limitations as well.