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EVAWI > Resources > Best Practices > Medical Forensic Exam
National Protocol

For detailed information on the medical forensic exam, please see the National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations (2013) (adults/adolescents) which is published by the Office on Violence Against Women.

In 2017, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) published National Best Practices for Sexual Assault Kits: A Multidisciplinary Approach, a compilation of recommendations with a corresponding online glossary of terms. Specifically, NIJ’s expert working group created 35 recommendations to guide victim-centered approaches for responding to sexual assault cases and better supporting victims throughout the criminal justice process. The recommendations emphasize the use of collaborative, victim-centered, and multidisciplinary approaches to improve evidence collection and preservation, increase consistency and provide uniformity for the prioritization and transferal of evidence, enhance laboratory process efficiencies for DNA testing, and advance investigative practices and agency protocols for: evidence inventory, tracking and audits, and communication systems.

Template Forms

The International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) offers an online library that includes forms to be used as templates by community professionals seeking to create or adapt tools for their own medical forensic exams.

Presence of Advocates

A legal compilation has been prepared by AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women, to summarize the statutes pertaining to the presence of a victim advocate during the medical forensic examination. Please visit their website to request the most up to date compilation.

Mandated Reporting

A legal compilation on reporting requirement for competent adult victims of sexual violence is available from AEquitas: The Prosecutors’ Resource on Violence Against Women. Please visit their website to request the most up to date compilation.

Documenting Injury

The publication entitled, “Absence of Anogenital Injury in the Adolescent Adult Female Sexual Assault Patient” by AEquitas, discusses the absence of injury in sexual assault cases. After reviewing 43 studies, the author determines that lack of injury is common, though a lack of studies on anal penetration and injury makes it difficult to determine how frequently that type of assault results in injury.

Mobile SANE Project

The West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS) has led efforts to develop a regional mobile SANE project in its state. This project allows the sharing of SANEs among five participating hospitals in a five-county area; an on-call SANE goes to the hospital where the sexual assault patient presents.

Victims with Disabilities

Detailed guidance for conducting forensic interviews with victims who have a disability can also be found in a video and companion guidebook available from the Office for Victims of Crime.

Statewide Assessment

The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) has published a “State of the State Report” on Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Programs, based on the findings of a 2011 survey of SAFE program coordinators. It is an excellent example of a statewide assessment offering guidance to programs and policymakers alike.

Do You Snip or Pluck a Victim’s Head and Pubic Hair?

In this article in Sexual Assault Report, author Sgt. (Ret.) Joanne Archambault examines the question of whether a victim’s head and pubic hair should be snipped or plucked. While many programs have historically plucked hairs, Sgt. Archambault argues that this uncomfortable procedure is not justified because of the extremely low possibility that they will be used in the prosecution of a sexual assault.

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