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Not Your Normal Nurse

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 33 Issue: 8 Dated: August 2006 Pages: 82,84-88,90,91
Jennifer Mertens
Date Published
August 2006
8 pages
This article describes the work of forensic nurses in general and their work with the Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Response (SART) center (Indiana) in particular.
Forensic nursing is the art and science of nursing as it relates to the work of law enforcement. Forensic nurses specialize in working with crime victims, performing traditional nursing services to meet their health needs and collecting physical evidence relevant to the investigation of their cases. Some forensic nurses are coroners, and others specialize in sexual assault cases. The latter nurses are called sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE). Some forensic nurses work with victims of domestic violence and child abuse. Forensic nurses are trained in evidence collection and the photographing and diagramming of injuries. Many forensic nurses are hospital-based, working from an emergency department. Others work in stand-alone facilities, such as the Fort Wayne SART center. This center combines the resources of a law enforcement detective, forensic nurse examiner, victim's advocate, and the patient. Team-based services at the SART center minimize trauma to the patient and reduce the number of times the victim is interviewed. The forensic nurse conducts a thorough medical exam that includes assessment for injury, detailed collection of evidence, and attention to vital signs. The seven nurses who work at the center are trained in evidence collection and preservation. After a complete assessment, a plan of care is developed that encompasses medical, psychological, and legal needs. The patient signs a consent form that allows all findings of the exam to be presented to police for investigative purposes.