For Health Care Professionals

Providing comprehensive care to patients who have suffered a rape or sexual assault can be multi-faceted. This website is designed to provide you with just the basics and should not be the only source you utilize to learn about the needs of this patient population. We support and encourage you to seek out more education and training on this topic by consulting the resources or organizations listed at the bottom of this page.

Utilize the services of an advocate to help patients understand their options.

Advocacy is commonly defined as “active support” for victims. Advocates are trained to provide comprehensive, confidential support to sexual assault survivors. Advocates can be present during the medical forensic examination if requested by the victim, and can assist victims with making a report to law enforcement. Advocates can provide options to help victims stay safe, access their civil legal options and understand the criminal justice system. Victim advocates are skilled at connecting victims with other community-based services, like employment, child care, food or housing. Working with an advocate is proven to result in better outcomes for victims.

Immediately call an advocate to respond upon the patient presenting at the hospital.  Many patients feel as though their problems are a burden and might decline an advocate when asked; however, more patients will speak with an advocate if the advocate is already present and waiting to assist.  If the patient declines speaking with an advocate at this point, the advocate should leave, but may leave some information to make it easier for the patient to make contact in the future.

For more information about what an advocate does, watch this short video.

For more information about the medical exam, watch this short video.

Contact an advocate near you by clicking here.

Patients must be provided with access to the medical forensic examination no matter the patient’s decision to report the rape to the police.

According to both federal and Minnesota law, patients requesting a sexual assault exam cannot be denied medical forensic care simply because the patient is unsure whether to report the rape to the police. Violence Against Women Act of 2005 Minn. Stat. 609.35 (c)(2003). For more information on this point, please access the Minnesota Model Policies at the link below.

Patients are not responsible for the cost of the exam.

According to both federal and Minnesota law, patients cannot be made responsible for the cost of the medical forensic exam even if the victim chooses not to report the assault to law enforcement or whether there is any active investigation or prosecution. In Minnesota, the county where the rape occurred is required to pay for the exam. Violence Against Women Act of 2005 Minn. Stat. 609.35 (2003). For more information on this point, please access the Minnesota Model Policies at the link below.

Where can I get more information?

  • Minnesota Chapter of the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN)
    Find information on upcoming Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) trainings, additional continuing educational opportunities, and other professional networking opportunities.
  • Minnesota Model Policies for Forensic Compliance
    This comprehensive manual was designed to guide various professionals (law enforcement, healthcare, victim advocates and prosecutors) through the complicated web of federal and state laws which dictate the standard of care that must be provided to patients who have been sexually assaulted. For example, this manual discusses federal and state laws regarding medical forensic exam payment, mandated reporting, minor consent to medical care, emergency contraception and other topics associated with sexual assault patient/victim care. Find the link at the bottom of the MNCASA About Medical Forensic Response page.

The information on this website is a general statement of law and policy. If you have specific questions please contact your local advocacy program for assistance.


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