While there is no standard protocol for how these are conducted in Washington State, Harborview Medical Center provides some recommendations and guidelines for both adult and adolescent forensic exams (see Additional Online Resources below). However, it is important to recognize that different counties and even different hospitals within counties may have difference procedures.
A forensic exam following a sexual assault will most likely consist of:
Due to the possibility of physical injuries sustained during the assault, the physician or SAFE/SANE may:
Many hospitals use a prepackaged medical evidence-gathering kit. All specimens should contain the patient's name, the date and time the evidence was gathered, the person collecting the specimen, and the type of evidence. A chain of custody must be maintained in order to protect the integrity of the evidence. This means that a record should be collected of all persons who handle the evidence, that is, the physician, nurse, and police officer (if a report was made). The evidence should not be left lying around where other people will have access to it and should never be handled by an advocate.
Advocates should NEVER insert themselves into the investigation. Ways to avoid being inserted into the chain of custody includes:
Child Sexual Abuse Medical Evaluation Recommended Guidelines from the Harborview Medical Center
Adult and Adolescent Sexual Abuse Medical Evaluation Recommended Guidelines from the Harborview Medical Center
SAFE Protocol: Trans-specific annotation from FORGE. This resource highlights every trans-specific reference in the National Protocol for Sexual Assault.