Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners

The Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) nurses are available 24/7 to provide objective forensic examinations, education and support to victims (all ages) of sexual assault or domestic violence.

Gundersen nurse examiners are experienced in working with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence so they understand how traumatic the experience can be. So while our SANE nurses have to be technically skilled evidence collectors, they are also compassionate and respectful of the patient’s dignity during every step of the examination.

Evidentiary exam

The SANE nurse or other Gundersen medical personnel (Emergency Services physicians or nurses) first assess the patient’s need for urgent or emergency medical care. After the patient’s medical condition is stabilized or it’s determined that immediate medical care is not needed, the SANE nurse begins an evidentiary exam:

  • Collect medical history and perform the SANE physical exam 
  • Interview the victim about the assault 
  • Collect and preserve medical forensic evidence and document findings 
  • Provide emotional, mental and physical support 
  • Screen for toxin/drugs as necessary
  • Provide preventive medications and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy as necessary 
  • Work with the victim to create a safe plan
  • Connect with patient advocate social worker and further psychological care

Evidence can be collect for up to five days after assault, but the sooner the better. If the victim does not want to report assault at the time of the crime, evidence is held at Gundersen. If a court case should result from the report of a sexual assault, the nurse examiner is available to testify as an expert witness.

What to do if you are sexually assaulted

  • Get to a safe place as soon as possible. 
  • Don’t blame yourself. 
  • It’s important to be seen by medical professionals who can assess your injuries, collect evidence, document the assault and provide you with the support you need.
  • Until seen by a medical expert do not rinse your mouth, smoke, brush your teeth or have anything to eat or drink, and do not wipe, wash, douche, bathe or shower. 
  • Report any suspicions that you may have been drugged.
  • Save the unwashed underwear and clothes you were wearing at the time of the assault. 
  • Consider reporting the assault to local police.

For questions or advice, contact a SANE nurse at (608) 775-3128 or call our Nurse Advisors at (608) 775-4454. Both are confidential and available 24/7.

Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System delivers great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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