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Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

Expert Care for Victims of Sexual Assault

girl holding her headThe Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program at Foothills Hospital is staffed by nurses with special training in expertly caring for and collecting evidence from recent victims of sexual assault.

The SANE exam includes a history of the assault that guides medical treatment, a detailed physical exam with documentation of injuries, and the collection of legal evidence. Patients are offered medications to prevent communicable diseases as well as emergency contraception when applicable. Information regarding community resources and appropriate medical follow-up are also provided.

SANE nurses are on-call 24 hours a day at Foothills Hospital to respond when a sexual assault victim seeks care. At this time, we serve adult and adolescent populations.

What Is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact. It can include kissing, touching or forced sexual intercourse of any kind by a stranger, someone you know, or someone you just met. It can happen at home, school, in a car - anywhere, anytime. It can be by a stranger, a family member, or an acquaintance.

Who Can Be Sexually Assaulted?

Absolutely anyone can be sexually assaulted.

What Should You Do if You Have Been Sexually Assaulted?

Tell a trusted friend or relative.

Or call advocates, such as Moving to End Sexual Assault at their 24-hour rape crisis and information hotline 303-443-0700. Email and website or call CU Boulder's Office of Victim Assistance at 303-492-8855.

When Should an Exam Be Done?

The sooner the better. Please come to the Foothills Hospital Emergency Department.

We can provide evidence collection up to seven days, and longer in some circumstances.

You can call the Foothills Hospital Emergency Department if you have questions related to an exam after a sexual assault and ask to speak with the on call Sexual Assault Nurse Navigator or SANE nurse. You will need to provide your call-back number.

What Will the Sane Staff Do During the Exam?

  • Take a history of the assault for the purposes of diagnosis and treatment.
  • Do a complete head to toe examination.
  • Perform a detailed genital examination.
  • Collect forensic evidence throughout the examination.
  • Educate patients regarding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and pregnancy prevention, and provide preventive medications.
  • Provide resources for follow-up care and counseling.
  • Maintain legal chain of custody for evidence.
  • Provide expert witness testimony in court when necessary.

What Happens to the Evidence?

The evidence is turned over to the law enforcement agency where the sexual assault occurred.

The patient can choose to have it tested or stored.

What if You Don't Want to Report the Sexual Assault?

By law, the SANE nurse must report to police. However, there are three reporting options available for adults.

Adults have the ability to choose to remain anonymous with law enforcement; work minimally or not at all with police; or participate in a police investigation.

Police typically will not pursue a case unless the patient agrees to work with them. Having a case number allows evidence to be tested or stored in case the victim decides to pursue charges at a later date.

Who Pays for the Exam?

All expenses not related to evidence collection - which may include preventive medications, follow up emergency care related to the assault, and emergency department charges - are typically covered by victims’ compensation or the Division of Criminal Justice.

Advocates can help the patient to file that application. Ultimately, they are the responsibility of the patient.

BCH has the ability to assist with these charges on a case by case basis.

Other Important Contacts
Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA), Boulder County's rape crisis center, 24-hour hotline 303-443-7300.
CU Boulder's Office of Victim Assistance (OVA), Confidential Assistance, support, counseling. M-F 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., 303-492-8855, after hours press 2.