Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner

Sexual Assult Exam / FAQ

General Information:

  • Louisiana law RS 13:5713(F) states, “The Coroner or his designee shall examine all alleged victims of a sexually oriented criminal offense. The coroner may select the hospital or healthcare provider named as the lead entity for sexual assault examinations in the regional plan required by R.S. 40:1300.41 as his designee to perform the forensic medical examination.”
  • Recognizing that sexual assault may be one component of a violent crime, it is imperative that the victim first seek emergency medical care for any injuries through a hospital-based emergency department.
  • In 2015, Act 229 established regional Sexual Assault Response plans. The St. Tammany Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) team has been designated the lead entity for DHH Region 9, which includes St. Tammany, Washington, Tangipahoa, Livingston, and St. Helena Parishes.

What To Do If You Are Sexually Assaulted:

  • Get to a place where you feel safe.
  • Preserve evidence of the assault - Avoid washing, smoking, using the restroom, changing your clothes, eating or drinking, brushing your teeth, or cleaning up the area where the sexual assault occurred. You may still have an exam even if you have done these things, and we often still find evidence up to 96 hours after an assault.
  • Go to the Emergency Department - A SANE from St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s Office can be requested 24/7 from any hospital in St. Tammany Parish, as well as most other hospitals in our region. Survivors of sexual assault can receive medical treatment and have forensic evidence collected at no charge.

Hospitals Where We Provide Sexual Assault Exams:

  • Bring a change of clothing if possible. Law enforcement may ask to use the clothes you are wearing as evidence. We can also provide clothing.
  • Call 911 if you want police involvement. If you are unsure, you can have evidence collected and held for at least 1 year. SANE can call the police for you if you choose, but reporting is not required for evidence collection or treatment. Cases involving minors (under age 18) or vulnerable adults (elderly or disabled) are required to be reported by state law.

Sexual assault is any type of unwanted sexual contact. It includes forced or coerced vaginal, oral, penile, and/or anal penetration or sexual touching. It can happen to anyone. The perpetrator of these crimes can be someone you know or a stranger. Whatever the case, a person who is sexually assaulted is never to blame.

A forensic nurse is a registered nurse who provides specialized care for patients who have experienced trauma. A Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is a registered nurse who has specialized training in the care and treatment of patients who have been sexually assaulted. The SANE provides one-on-one compassionate, confidential, expert care at the hospital. Additionally, they offer support with notifying the authorities, if you decide to report, and expert testimony, should the case go to court. SANEs with the STPCO Forensic Nursing Program do not work for the hospital or law enforcement agency.

Anyone can have a SANE exam through our program regardless of their gender, location of the crime, where they live, or if there is police involvement as long as the assault happened within 96 hours (4 days). After this time frame, evidence is no longer present. If the victim is under the age of 17, they will be sent to the Children’s Hospital of New Orleans or the Audrey Hepburn CARE Center for the exam. Translation services are available.

After you are checked into the hospital and evaluated by the emergency department staff, they will call our 24/7 hotline to request the on-call SANE. The SANE will provide the exam at your desired pace in a safe and private room. During this exam, the SANE will:

  • Obtain and document a medical history
  • Collect and document any evidence
  • Collaborate with hospital staff to ensure you are provided with medications to prevent pregnancy and many sexually transmitted infections
  • Evaluate for injuries and illnesses
  • Connect you to a free, confidential medical advocate who ensures your needs are met
  • Offer a change of clothing, toiletries, and other comfort items
  • Give referrals for follow-up care, including counseling and medical treatment

Not unless we are required by Mandatory Reporting Laws, which only include survivors under 18 years of age or disabled/elderly adults. If you are unsure about reporting, we suggest you have an unreported kit collected and receive medical treatment. Your kit will be labeled anonymously and held for at least a year so you have time to make a decision.

No. You should not be charged for any part of the hospital visit for a SANE exam, including co-pays or deductibles. Submitting insurance is optional. We will assist the hospital with getting your exam reimbursed through a confidential program called Crime Victim Reparations.

  • After this time frame, evidence is no longer available for collection, but we still suggest you get medical treatment through your physician or any other medical provider. We also recommend connecting with any of the local sexual assault advocacy organizations for free, confidential counseling and information on your legal options and any other needs. Children under age 18 will be referred to the Audrey Hepburn CARE Center for evaluation, who will contact a caregiver to set up and offer information about legal and medical options appointments at either their New Orleans or Covington locations.
  • By law, DNA labs can only release these results to a law enforcement agent, so we do not get them. If you reported to the police, you should contact the detective assigned to your case. If you have not reported, your PERK (Physical Evidence Recovery Kit) for DNA and toxicology kit will not be tested. You have at least one year to decide about reporting before the evidence is destroyed. If you have any trouble getting in touch with your detective or need assistance after your exam, contact a sexual assault advocacy organization such as STAR, Metro, or Adapt for assistance.

You may accept or decline any parts of the exam or suggested treatment. We are here to empower you to make choices about your care, but we will never force you to do anything that makes you uncomfortable. Nothing about the exam should be painful.

advocacy Resources for Survivors of Sexual Violence and Their Loved Ones:

STAR (Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response)
24/7 Hotline: (855) 435-STAR (7827)

Metro Centers for Community Advocacy
24/7 Hotline: (504) 837-5400

Adapt Inc.
Washington Parish
24/7 Hotline: (985) 732-4961

New Orleans Family Justice Center
Orleans Parish
24/7 Hotline: (504) 837-5400

Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault
(888) 995-7273

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
24/7 Hotline: (800) 656-HOPE (4673)

211 or VIA LINK
VIA LINK provides 24/7 information, referrals, and crisis counseling for all people and organizations in Southeast Louisiana who need help locating resources, information, and services or just need to talk.
Phone: 2-1-1 or (504) 269-2673
Teen Text Line: (504) 777-EASE (3272)
Crisis Chat is also available on the website.

If you are having an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.