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Mary Washington Healthcare Medical Forensic Exam Services

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Su voz tiene poderMary Washington Hospital Emergency Department provides specifically trained, compassionate and understanding forensic nurses 7 days a week for those who require medical care or need to have physical evidence collected after experiencing an act of violence. These acts of violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender.

If you are a victim of a crime, our first priority at Mary Washington Healthcare is making sure you receive the immediate healthcare services and emotional support you need. Highly trained, compassionate sexual assault and forensic nurse examiners provide medical and forensic documentation and evidence collection which may lead to a more positive criminal justice outcome.

Our forensic nurse examiners treat the following:

  • Sexual assaults/abuse (pediatric, adolescent, and adult)
  • Domestic violence/abuse
  • Elder neglect/abuse
  • Child neglect/abuse
  • Physical assault
  • Traumatic injuries (gun shot wound, stabbings, etc.)
  • Exploitation/human trafficking
  • Strangulation

Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE)

Our forensic nurse examiners (FNE) have specialized training and certifications. The SANE designation indicates an even more specialized certification as a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner.

Forensic team 2024

Medical Forensic Exams

Forensic exams are performed at Mary Washington Hospital by our team of forensic nurse examiners. These exams require compassionate, thorough and careful collection of evidence and can take from two to six hours to complete.

The following are steps in the forensics exam process:

  • Triage - An emergency department nurse takes vital signs and gathers medical history.
  • Overview - The patient’s medical and legal options are explained.
  • Interview - The patient participates in a detailed clinical interview with a forensic nurse.
  • Evidence - Forensic evidence is collected (if within 120 hours of the assault).
  • Documentation - All exam findings are documented with detailed written descriptions and photos.
  • Treatment Options - Education and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention are offered when applicable.
  • Resources - The patient is given information about available community support groups, counselors, shelters, etc.

Our forensic nurses provide services at Mary Washington Hospital, Stafford Hospital, the Emergency and Outpatient Center at Lee’s Hill, and Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center. To support you, our forensic nurse examiners are active participants with multiple local counties and jurisdictions as part of their multidisciplinary teams. They often collaborate with military and government agencies as well. In addition to collecting evidence that may be used as part of a criminal investigation, the FNE may be called upon to deliver expert testimony during criminal trials.

Acts of Violence Reporting Options

Patient medical and legal reporting options for adult patients 18+:

1. Confidential / Anonymous / Blind Report (forensic nurse examiner performs exam; NO law enforcement involvement):

  • Within 120 hours* – Forensic exam and collection of evidence.**
  • After 120 hours* – Forensic exam without collection of evidence.

2. Law Enforcement Report (forensic nurse examiner performs exam):

  • Within 120 hours* – Forensic exam and collection of evidence.
  • After 120 hours* – Forensic exam without evidence collection.

3. Medical exam only (physician performs exam):

  • Forensic nurse examiner not involved.
  • NO forensic evidence collected.

* Depending upon type of assault / abuse. Evidence collection time frames can vary. Some can be less than the 120 hours for different types of cases.
** Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) is sent to the Department of Consolidated Laboratory Services. (Note: PERKs are not tested unless the assault is reported to law enforcement. If no report is made within two years, the PERK is destroyed.)

Community-Based Resources

The MWHC forensic nurse examiners and emergency department nurses will link victims of violence with community partner agencies. Advocates are called in to the emergency department to meet with victims.

  • For domestic violence and intimate partner violence victim services, free, confidential, 24 hours – Empowerhouse, 540.373.9373,
  • For sexual assault victim services, free, confidential, 24 hours – Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA), 540.371.1666, (24/7 crisis hotline),
  • For child sexual assault and physical abuse, interviews will take place at their location –Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center,

These organizations assist with risk assessment, safety planning, support, hospital accompaniment, counseling, shelter, court accompaniment, and victim follow-up.

To leave a confidential message for one our forensic nurses, and/or ask questions, please call 540.741.1285.

To learn more details about the Forensic Nursing Program and services offered at Mary Washington Healthcare, listen to this #InsideMWHC Podcast.

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