Forensic nursing is a unique specialty that blends the worlds of nursing, science, and the legal system. This page will explain the role of a forensic nurse, what to expect during a sexual assault examination, how to preserve DNA evidence following an assault, the rights of victims of sexual assault, as well as provide educational resources for public awareness and prevention.
What is a Forensic Nurse?
A forensic nurse takes care of patients who have been victims of a crime or who may have contact with the legal system. North Central Kansas Medical Center forensic nurses are specially trained to provide compassionate care in conducting examinations on any age patient. Our nurses have extensive training in collecting detailed medical and event history, head-to-toe examinations, detailed genital examinations, forensic evidence collection, photo documentation of injuries and providing court testimonies as needed in response to any of the following events:
- Sexual assault
- Non-Fatal Strangulation (choking)
- Interpersonal Violence
- Domestic Abuse
- Child Abuse/Neglect
- Elder Abuse/Neglect
- Human Sex Trafficking
- Gunshot Wounds
- Suspect Examinations
Sexual Assault Examination
During a sexual assault examination, patients can expect that a forensic nurse will:
- Give compassionate care
- Maintain privacy
- Take a complete history
- Seek informed consent
- Explain everything about the examination
- Conduct a head-to-toe examination
- Conduct a detailed genital examination
- Collect evidence as indicated
- Do lab work, if needed
- Discuss and/or provide preventative medication options
- Provide follow-up options
- Provide community resources
Preserving DNA Evidence
Evidence preservation following a sexual assault is important to building a case and assisting forensic nurses and law enforcement. Patients should refrain from showering or bathing until they come to the hospital to be examined.
- Do NOT drink any liquids
- Do NOT brush your teeth
- Do NOT use mouthwash
- Do NOT take a shower
- Do NOT take a bath
- Do NOT douche (flush the vagina)
- Do NOT change your clothes
- Do NOT urinate (if at all possible)
- Do NOT have a bowel movement
Bring any other items related to the assault with you to the hospital or give them to law enforcement.
Rights of Victims of Sexual Assault
According to Kansas Statutes, patients 18 years of age and older have the right to a sexual assault examination whether they report to law enforcement or not – this means that they can be examined, have evidence collected and be treated without notifying law enforcement. The evidence collected will be held by the Kansas Bureau of Investigations for five years, should you change your mind later and decide to report to law enforcement.
By law, patients under the age of 18 may not report anonymously, in which case law enforcement must be notified by forensic nurses.
If you are or have been a victim of sexual assault or physical abuse, there is help available for you. You can contact your local law enforcement agency or any of the community partners below.
Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas (DVACK)
DVACK serves victims 16 years of age and older, providing comfort and support with respect, dignity and compassion. All services are confidential and free. DVACK educates victims and their support system and connects them with community resources. DVACK may be present during all phases of a forensic investigation.
24-Hour Hotline: 1-800-874-1499
Concordia Office: 785-243-4349
Hope’s Place Child Advocacy Center
Hope’s Place is a child friendly, non-institutional environment where specialized forensic interviewers talk to children and disabled adults to help determine whether violence or abuse occurred. They provide a safe environment that promotes prevention, education, and intervention services to abused and neglected children/families.
Phone number: (785)243-8200
Department for Children and Families (DCF)
DCF is the agency that steps in when children and their parents and guardians do not have other family members to support them, or when their needs are so great that family members cannot manage alone. In other cases, DCF provides temporary support to help people get back on their feet after an unexpected life event occurs. In forensic nursing, DCF is notified on all victims under the age of 18.
Kansas Protection Report Center: 1-800-922-5330
Concordia office: (785)243-4671
Forensic Nurses work with law enforcement in many counties in Kansas and even with the Kansas Bureau of Investigations when needed. Locally, we work with the Concordia Police Department and the Cloud County Sheriff’s Department.
Concordia Police Dispatch: (785) 243-3131
Cloud Co. Sherriff’s Department: (785) 243-3636
A county attorney looks at the facts of a forensic case and files charges. He or she builds rapport with a victim and their family then prosecutes for the State. Forensic nurses work with county attorneys across Kansas, as well as the Attorney General’s Office.
Cloud Co. Attorney Office: (785) 243-8175