Sexual assault evidence collection more accurate when completed by sexual assault nurse examiners: Colorado's experience

J Emerg Nurs. 2003 Dec;29(6):511-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jen.2003.08.010.


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to determine if sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) provide more effective evidence collection compared with non-SANE-trained nurse and physician colleagues.

Methods: Five hundred fifteen audits were completed by crime laboratory analysts on sexual assault evidence kits submitted to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation from October 1999 to April 2002.

Results: Of 515 evidence kits audited, 279 were completed by SANEs. Non-SANE physicians and nurses completed 236 kits. Evidence kits collected by SANEs were more likely to have a completed chain of custody (92%) compared with 81% of non-SANE-collected kits. SANEs also were more likely to have properly sealed individual specimen envelopes (91% vs 75%), to have labeled the individual specimen envelopes (95% vs 88%), and to have collected the appropriate amount of pubic hair (88% vs 74%) and head hair (95% vs 80%). SANEs more frequently included the appropriate number of blood tubes (95% vs 80%), collected the appropriate amount of swabs (88% vs 71%), and included a vaginal fluid slide for sperm motility (87% vs 72%). Both groups prepared slides at a high rate for each penetrated orifice (87% vs 90%) and both had a high rate of including the crime laboratory report in the completed kit (97% vs 93%).

Discussion: Studies such as this provide documentation that evidence collection kits prepared by SANEs are more accurate and complete when compared with evidence collection kits prepared by non-SANE nurses and physicians. Additional studies are needed to further validate the efficacy of SANE-completed evidentiary examinations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Colorado
  • Emergency Nursing / methods
  • Forensic Medicine / standards*
  • Humans
  • Medical Audit
  • Rape / diagnosis*
  • Rape / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Specimen Handling / nursing*
  • Specimen Handling / standards*