Sexual assault forensic examiners' training and assessment using simulation technology

Maureen Fitzpatrick, Andrew Ta, Joshua Lenchus, Kristopher L. Arheart, Lisa Forman Rosen, David J. Birnbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Introduction: More than 190,000 sexual assaults involving persons aged 12 years or older occur annually in the United States. For these victims, a forensic examination is the first step in the process to justice. Assessment and treatment of victims, as well as the meticulous collection and documentation of evidence, are vital for a strong case. Providing timely services 24/7 by qualified professionals can be taxing on schedules and budgets. Using in-house resources to cross-train ED personnel, we developed a program that introduced novice forensic examiners to common clinical scenarios encountered in the treatment of victims and provided a framework for the evaluation and management of each case. Methods: Seventeen ED personnel attended statewide sexual assault nurse examination training and participated in four simulation scenarios and debriefings. Pre-tests and post-tests were administered, and a checklist was used to assess competence in performing examinations independently. Results: The majority of participants achieved competence (≥85% on the checklist) with their first case and had statistically significant gains in knowledge between pre-test and post-test (pre-test mean score [±SE] of 69.1 ± 1.7 vs. post-test mean score of 84.4 ± 2.6, P < .001). Course evaluations were favorable, with a mean score of 91.3%. Discussion: Our results validated the use of simulation technology and in-house resources for cross-training in a sexual assault forensic examination program, together with a checklist to assess competence in performing examinations independently. Benefits of having a sexual assault forensic examination program in the emergency department are standardized and timely care for victims, as well as enhanced evidence collection and increased reporting and prosecution of crimes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-90.e6
JournalJournal of Emergency Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Checklist
  • Competence
  • Cross-training
  • Sexual assault
  • Simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency


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