Forensic Nurse Examiner - FAQs

Who is going to be at the hospital to help me?

  • You will be triaged by a nurse and taken to a private area to wait to be seen.
  • The Emergency Department (ED) Charge Nurse will discuss your options of being evaluated by an ED Medical Provider or having your needs met by the Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE).
  • A patient advocate will be called in to speak with you about your safety and emotional concerns as well as provide community resources for victims of sexual violence.
  • An FNE will be called in for the Forensic Medical Exam and Evidence Collection.
  • Law Enforcement (police) will only be called if you want them to be called.

What is a Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE)?

An FNE is a nurse who is specially trained in sexual assault forensic care. FNE provides explanation what a forensic medical exam and evidence collection includes:

  • Obtain consent for the forensic medical exam.
  • Document patient’s medical history and assess current medical needs.
  • Document the details of the sexual assault (as given by the patient or caregiver).
  • Complete a physical assessment while simultaneously evaluating forensically.
  • Pictures may be taken of your body throughout the exam.
  • Swabs may be collected from areas on your body to obtain possible evidence.
  • Clothing may be collected depending on circumstances of assault.
  • Laboratory specimen collection may test for pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STI’s), and some drug-facilitated sexual assault drugs.
  • Medications may be provided such as antibiotics for STI prevention, hormones for pregnancy prophylaxis, or pain medicine as needed.

FNE will need to ask you several questions to understand how best to care for you. They will ask questions about your medical history, the sexual assault and what happened to you, and your current well-being to assess emotional and medical needs.

FNE will ensure your readiness for discharge. Your safety is our concern – you will not be discharged to an unsafe environment. The ED has 24/7 capability to ensure your mental health needs can be managed. In addition, the FNE or patient advocate will provide community resources for support services.

Why should a Forensic Medical Exam be performed by a Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE)?

FNEs have extensive forensic training to care for those who have been sexually assaulted:

  • Forensic Nurse Examiners are certified through the Maryland Board of Nursing
  • FNEs thoroughly examine body for evidence and document findings in detail
  • FNEs use best practice techniques to collect and preserve forensic evidence
  • FNEs are can provide expert testimony in a courtroom if necessary

FNEs provide trauma-informed care throughout entire process:

  • Your care will be conducted in a respectful and confidential manner
  • FNEs provide one-on-one care when called in to perform a forensic medical examination
  • FNEs have superior knowledge in community resources and victim support services

FNEs understand it is your choice to have this exam:

  • FNE will allow you to control how fast the exam is happening
  • You can stop or pause or take a break from the exam at any time
  • It is your body and therefore, your choice – we will respect your wishes

How long after the assault can I wait to come in for evidence collection?

  • 12 years or younger – Evidence collection up to 72 hours after the assault or abuse
  • 13 years or older – Evidence collection up to 120 hours after the assault or abuse

Will I get a billed for the exam?

Maybe. The State of Maryland provides grant funds to help pay for the Forensic Medical Examinations, and most of the time the exam will be completely free to the victim. When there is medical care provided that is beyond the Forensic Medical Examination and Evidence Collection then the patient or their insurance may be billed for these costs.

Do I have to talk to police? (Note: Exception regarding children as noted below)

NO, you do not need to report the assault to police in order to have an exam:

  • A confidential Forensic Medical Exam and Evidence Collection can still be done.
  • It is called a “Delayed” or “Jane Doe” or “Restricted” or “Anonymous” Report.
  • The Forensic Evidence kit will not be tested until you decide to report to police.
  • The Forensic Evidence kit will be stored for at least 18 months at the crime lab.
  • This allows you time to rest and seek support before making a decision to report.

Yes, police and child protective services will be contacted if the victim is a under the age of 18 years and the reported assault or abuse states the maltreator as:

  • the child’s parent or caregiver,
  • a family or household member, or
  • having temporary care or custody of the child at the time of abuse

What is sexual assault or abuse?

Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual touch that you do not agree to. Child sexual assault or abuse can be described as any time a child is engaged in a sexual situation or sexual activity with an older person. For more information about types of sexual assault, abuse or violence, please visit www.rainn.org/types-sexual-violence .

What if I suspect my child has been sexually abused?

If your child tells you they have been sexually abused or assaulted:

  • Remain calm.
  • Reassure your child that you believe them.
  • Ensure your child that they are not to blame.
  • Don’t interrogate them for more answers – let the professionals do the questioning.

If the reported abuse/assault occurred less than 72 hours ago, contact the UM BWMC Emergency Department at 410-787-4565. They can direct you how to get your child examined.

If the reported abuse/assault occurred more than 72 hours ago, or are unsure of when it may have occurred, call the Anne Arundel County Child Advocacy Center at 410-421-8571. They can direct you how to get your child examined.