???Providing sexual assault patients with forensic examinations by SANE nurses is crucial. It offers the best opportunity for evidence-based health care, better evidence for law enforcement, and the chance for successful prosecution. It also ensures patients are guided to critical follow-up services in order to heal both physically and mentally from this life-altering trauma.??? - Lisa Simonian, DNP, CRNP, SANE-A, forensic clinical director, UPMC Hamot


Grant Application

Lisa Simonian, DNP, CRNP, SANE-A, UPMC Hamot, in partnership with Tammy Bimber, MSN, RN, CEN, SANE-A, SANE-P,UPMC Northwest, Janet M. McFarland, BSN, RN, CEN, SANE-A, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, and Valerie Schreiber, BSN, MS, RN, CEN, SANE-A, and Debra Shane, MSN, RN, SANE-A, UPMC Mercy

Proposed Innovation

Every day, at least one sexual assault patient arrives at a UPMC facility for care. Providing these patients with an evidence-based medical legal examination by forensic nurses is essential to the patient and the judicial process. This project provided the education, clinical training, and equipment needed to establish a standardized process, or model of care, for sexual assault patients at UPMC using Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE).


Through this project, sexual assault patients were examined by SANE nurses who were trained to recognize, collect, and preserve forensic evidence according to established medical legal guidelines. This included use of forensic equipment and resources for injury identification, photography, evidence collection and preservation.

Sexual assault patients also were empowered through education and shared decision making to determine their plan of care along with access to trauma informed and holistic medical follow-up.


The project led to implementation of a UPMC system-wide sexual assault policy. Equipment was distributed to UPMC facilities to provide standardized forensic care and a sexual assault education video was produced to enhance the patient shared decision making process. In addition, 21 nurses completed UPMC SANE courses in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015.

Other improvements included continuation of the bi-annual UPMC SANE course, the creation of competency and peer review policies for UPMC SANEs, and the creation of a system-wide forensic photography and photo storage policy.