Medical Forensic Exams
Medical forensic exams can help people impacted by assault or abuse by addressing medical concerns, collecting evidence and starting the healing process. Our nurses and providers are health care professionals who are trained to treat those affected by violence and trauma that comes from sexual assault, intimate partner violence, neglect or other forms of intentional injury.
Exams may include:
- Physical exam
- Lab testing
- Photography and injury documentation
- Medication to prevent infections and/or pregnancy
- Evidence collection
- Community Resources
Completing any part of the exam is optional and every exam is based on the needs of the individual. Your nurse or provider will explain each step of the process and you decide which parts of the exam are important. You can stop at any time – you control each step of the process.
While most of an exam can be done at any time after an assault, some portions of the exam are time sensitive. For anyone wanting evidence to be collected after a sexual assault, it is recommended that a forensic kit be completed within five days of the assault occurring. Kits can be done at the emergency department or in our clinic.
Medical Service FAQ
As part of the medical team in the emergency department, we have forensic nurse examiners or FNEs. These nurses are specially trained to care for individuals who have experienced physical or sexual violence and trauma. Their purpose is to help ensure the health and safety of their patients and collect any evidence that may be present.
Forensic exams are for any person, of any age, who has experienced intentional violence. This can include physical assault, elder abuse, child abuse or neglect, sexual assault, domestic violence or intimate partner violence, or those who have experienced sex trafficking.
Forensic exams are available at multiple locations. Our clinic, the Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse, is open during business hours Monday-Friday, and has advocates and medical providers that can complete a forensic exam. Exams can also be completed in emergency departments throughout Snohomish County.
Contact our 24/7 advocacy line to identify which location would be best for you: 425-252-4800.
If you experienced a sexual assault and you want a forensic sexual assault kit collected, it is best to complete the exam as soon as possible but no later than five days from the assault. Documenting visible injuries and preventing pregnancy risks should also be completed in a timely manner. However, even if your assault was longer than five days ago, a medical exam could be very beneficial to your overall health and to your healing from the assault.
Please reach out if you have any health concerns related to your assault, no matter when it happened.
You should not be billed for a sexual assault forensic exam. Initial sexual assault forensic exams are paid by the state through the Crime Victim Compensation program. Forensic exams for other kinds of assault will be billed to you or your primary insurance first. If you reported the crime to law enforcement, Crime Victims Compensation may cover the exam.
Call our advocate line to learn more about the Crime Victim Compensation process or to receive assistance in filling out the application.
While nurses and advocates are bound by confidentiality, there are exceptions. Nurses and advocates are mandatory reporters of abuse or neglect of vulnerable populations. This includes anyone under the age of 18 and any adult who meets the legal definition of a vulnerable adult under RCW (RCW 74.34.020 ; RCW 74.34.021).
Nurses and advocates also need to report if there are any concerns for suicide or threats of harm to others.
To talk anonymously with someone, without fear or reporting, please call our 24/7 advocacy line and decline to tell us your name.