SANE and Forensic Nurse Needs in Sexual Assault Cases

SANE nurses perform a critically important job in the healthcare industry.  This job is far from a happy one but is a needed one due to the fact crime exists, in particular sexual assault.  SANE nurses collect critical forensic evidence from sexually assaulted victims and preserve the evidence for police and the justice system.  These forensic nurses can also play important roles in investigations against these crimes.  They may be called to court and become expert witnesses.

The article, “Demand for sexual assault nurse examiner services rises as staffing drops” by Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon reviews in one particular facility how sexual crimes have risen with the availability of SANE nurses dropping.  The article discusses the importance of these types of nurses and how they cover a broad area in ensuring proper investigation and collection of evidence.  MacKinnon states,

“The number of people seeking sexual assault nurse examiner services at Horizon hospitals is on track to exceed the past two years, while the number of nurses trained to perform them is dropping.  A total of 143 people have accessed sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) services between April 1 and the end of September, according to data provided by Horizon.  If that trend continues, the number could reach about 286 by the end of 2022-23.”

“Demand for sexual assault nurse examiner services rises as staffing drops”. Bobbi-Jean MacKinnon. CBC NEWS.  October 6th, 2022

To view the entire article, please click here


SANE and Forensic Nurses supply an invaluable service to patients as well as the criminal justice system in the prosecution of sexually assault crimes


SANE nursing is a specialized area of nursing that focuses on providing care to patients who have been victims of sexual assault or abuse. SANE nurses are specially trained to provide compassionate and confidential care to these patients, as well as to collect evidence and assist in the prosecution of their abusers. SANE nursing is an important part of providing comprehensive care to these patients and helping to ensure that their abusers are brought to justice.

The acronym “SANE” stands for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. The main goal of a SANE examiner is to collect evidence and document the injuries sustained by the victim during the assault. In order to do this, the SANE examiner will perform a thorough physical examination and collect samples for various types of testing. The SANE examiner will also take photographs of any injuries present on the victim’s body. While on site, the SANE examiner overall provides high quality, compassionate care to victims of sexual assault. The SANE provides a variety of services, including: medical assessment and treatment, crisis intervention and support, evidence collection, and referrals for additional services.

In addition to on site care and collection of evidence, SANE examiners also are called into court numerous times.  SANE examiners in court are responsible for providing expert testimony on the mental state of defendant at the time of the offense. This testimony is used to determine whether the defendant was legally sane at the time of the offense. SANE examiners use their clinical training and experience to assess the defendant’s mental state and render an opinion on whether the defendant was legally sane at the time of the offense.

Many SANE examiners also look into becoming certified in Forensic Nursing.  Forensic nursing is a field of nursing that deals with providing care to patients who have been victims of crime. Forensic nurses work closely with law enforcement and other officials to provide care and support to victims and witnesses of crime. They also work to collect evidence and compile medical reports that can be used in court.

Becoming a SANE Examiner

In order to become a sane examiner, one must first understand the basics of examining. This includes understanding the different types of exams, how to construct an exam, and how to grade an exam. Once these basics are understood, one can then begin to develop their own methods and procedures for conducting examinations. It is important to keep in mind that each examiner is different and therefore there is no single right or wrong way to conduct an examination.  The training covers all aspects of the examination process, from initial patient assessment to evidence collection and documentation. Upon completion of the training, nurses will be able to provide high-quality, compassionate care to victims of sexual assault.  In addition, Forensic nurses receive certification from a reputable organization.  Again, most forensic nurses are also SANE certified.


The vital importance of SANE examiners and Forensic nurses cannot be underestimated.  They provide care to the patient who has undergone the intense trauma of sexually assault but they also provide the collection of evidence needed to convict violent sexual offenders.  They furthermore work with the local, state and federal authorities in an investigation and also within the court room as a witness to the evidence.  Any nurse can become SANE and forensic nurse certified.  They merely must fulfill the training requirements and pass the tests required to perform this important service.

It can be a very dark field but a necessary one where a single good person can give love, compassion and light to a traumatic event for another.  Nurses who wish to find justice for others and care for the most vulnerable are excellent candidates for SANE and forensic nursing.

Please also review AIHCP’s Forensic Nursing Certification Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals within the nursing community and SANE workforce who are seeking a four year certification.  The program consists of 5 courses and then the applicant is eligible to earn the four year certification.

Additional Resources

“Rural Availability of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs)”. Elizabeth Thiede BSN, RN,Sheridan Miyamoto PhD, FNP, RN, FAAN.  The Journal of Rural Health. 06 December 2020. Access here

“Forensic nursing science: Global strategies in health and justice”. Virginia A.Lynch. Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences. Volume 1, Issue 2, June 2011, Pages 69-76. Access here

“What is a SANE exam?”. Elizabeth Boskey, PhD. Verywellhealth. August 10th, 2022.  Access here

“What is a Forensic Nurse?” Nurse Journal Staff. Nurse Journal. September 9th, 2022 Access here