Forensic Science Organization to Draft Standards for Sexual Assault Examinations

Forensic Science Organization to Draft Standards for Sexual Assault Examinations

A sexual assault kit contains items that a nurse or other caregiver uses to collect physical evidence from victims.

Credit: Department of Justice

GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today that the Organization of Scientific Area Committees for Forensic Science (OSAC), which is administered by NIST, will launch a new subcommittee that will draft standards for collecting physical evidence from victims of sexual assault. The goal of the new standards will be to improve the quality of care for victims and help ensure that evidence is properly collected and preserved until a crime lab can analyze it. OSAC is seeking experts to serve on the new forensic nursing subcommittee, named for the professional caregivers who conduct many sexual assault examinations.

OSAC, which is part of NIST’s larger Forensic Science Program, works to accelerate the development and adoption of high-quality, technically sound standards for forensic science. 

Forensic nurses are trained to provide comprehensive care to victims of violence, to collect evidence that may be presented in court and to testify in court. Sexual assault examinations are not always conducted by forensic nurses, but they are always conducted by a medical professional, whether a nurse, a doctor or physician’s assistant. Most sexual assault examinations are done at hospitals, though they can also take place in community-based health clinics, child advocacy centers, mobile units, rape crisis centers and family justice centers.

“Sexual assault examinations are complex because they have to meet both the medical needs of the victim and the evidentiary needs of the criminal justice system,” ..

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