The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program provides direct patient care to Adults, Adolescents, and Children who disclose sexual assault and present to SANE designated Emergency Departments and Children’s Advocacy Centers across the Commonwealth. Since the Program’s inception in 1997, the MA SANE Program has provided care to over 8,500 sexual assault patients statewide.
MA SANEs deliver coordinated, expert forensic nursing care necessary to ensure essential medical intervention to patients of all ages and provide reliable forensic evidence that contributes to law enforcement’s response.
On May 3, 2011, Boston Medical Center clinicians, Andrew Glantz, MD, FACS, trauma surgeon and Associate Professor of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine and Judy Linden, MD, FACEP, SANE, Emergency Medicine Physician and Associate Professor, Boston University Medical Center, along with Claire Shastany, RN, SANE, SANE Regional Coordinator, Michelle Galant, CNM, SANE and Tara Cappola, JD, Plymouth Country Assistant District Attorney, presented a SANE case at Umass Medical School’s 2011 Massachusetts Sexual Assault Examiner Program Training Conference.
The case – “Justice for Michael” – involved a patient who presented to Boston Medical Center from an outside facility after being brutally sexually assaulted. The case showed how fast action by Boston Medical Center’s trained Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) collected evidence that subsequently led to the conviction of the attackers.
About the SANE Program
The SANE Program consists of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) who are specially trained and certified professionals skilled in performing quality forensic medical-legal exams. If a case it to go to trial the SANEs are available to testify.
- SANEs are available by beeper and respond within 40-60 minutes to the designated SANE site ready to care for the victim of sexual assault
- SANEs will document the account of the assault, perform necessary medical exams, testing and treatment, then collect crucial, time sensitive evidence using the Massachusetts Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit distributed by the Executive Office of Public Safety
- A forensic exam performed by a SANE can take up to 4 hours from beginning to discharge of the patient.
- SANEs provide medical care to survivors without interruption, therefore maintaining the chain of evidence from the exam
- SANEs perform exams with state of the art forensic equipment and supplies and are kept up to date with the latest in forensic science developments
- SANEs receive expert training, supervision, and quality assurance monitoring
- SANEs provide preventative treatment for HIV, STDs, and pregnancy
SANE Enhances Public Safety through Increased Prosecution of Rapists
- SANEs have testified and provided quality forensic evidence in 54 sexual assault trials of which, 51 have resulted in conviction. Evidence collection along with SANE testimony were important elements in achieving convictions in all of the cases.
- In FY’02 through FY’04 evidence submitted to the Boston and State Police Crime Lab revealed that overall, SANEs are collecting better evidence than non-SANE providers
- Massachusetts DA’s anecdotally report alleged perpetrators are more likely to plead guilty before trial when the prosecution presents evidence collected by SANEs, saving enormous prosecution costs.
- Ongoing developments in the science of evidence collection, e.g. DNA testing, require a higher level of expertise and consistency in the collection of evidence for sexual assault cases.
- Standardizing the preservation of the chain of evidence by:
- Providing expertise by quickly and uniformly incorporating improvements in forensic evidence collection techniques
- Ensuring that SANE evidence is transported properly to the proper crime lab
- Monitoring the quality of evidence submitted to the crime lab
Courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Health and Human Services