Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program
The Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program at the Weill Cornell campus is one of several hospital-based programs in New York City offering state-of-the-art forensic and medical services to survivors of sexual assault. Medical providers in the SAFE Program work side by side with Social Work staff and/or Volunteer Advocates in the Victim Intervention Program to provide compassionate and specialized medical care, forensic examination and documentation, and crisis counseling in the Adult, Pediatric, and Psychiatric Emergency Departments.
The Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners are registered nurses, medical doctors, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners who are dedicated to providing the most competent, timely, and compassionate medical and forensic care to victims of sexual assault. Examiners receive training in the collection of evidence, documentation of injury, physical and pelvic examinations, and the use of specialized equipment. Each month, SAFEs respond to cases in the Emergency Department on an “on-call” basis, traveling from home or nearby to provide the aforementioned care.
Participation in the SAFE Program is an invaluable experience. Medical providers have ample opportunity to enhance medical, history-taking and documentation skills, in addition to mastering the collection and preservation of the evidence. Medical providers who become Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners receive training and ongoing clinical supervision in the following areas:
- Photography of injuries
- Documentation of evidence and sites of injury
- Completion of the Sexual Offense Evidence Collection Kit and Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Kit
- Effective assessment and response to victims of acute sexual assault
Who can participate?
Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners must be RNs, MDs, PAs, or NPs employed by New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell with a license to practice in New York State and at least one year of post-graduate practice in their area of licensure. Each examiner completes training in the forensic examination of victims of sexual assault and intimate partner violence. After completing the training, examiners must demonstrate proficiency in the medical/pelvic preceptorship. Additionally, examiners wishing to work in the SAFE Program must agree to dedicate at least one year of service as an on-call examiner, and reside within 60 minutes of the Emergency Department. Service consists of a minimum of three 12-hour “on-call” shifts per month. New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell employees wishing to become a part of the SAFE Program must meet the requirements and receive prior approval for participating by the SAFE Program Coordinator and Medical Director. Once approved, medical providers must pass the training for Sexual Assault Forensic Examination and subsequent preceptorship.
The SAFE program
New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell is designated by the New York State Department of Health as a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Center of Excellence. As a SAFE Center of Excellence, we provide the following services in the Emergency Department:
- Medical (including pelvic) exams by SAFE-trained RNs, MDs, NPs, and PAs
- Forensic examination and documentation of injuries
- Completion of the Sexual Offense Evidence Collection Kit and the Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault Kit
- Colposcopic photography and examination
- HIV and STI Prophylaxis
- Emergency Contraception
- Crisis counseling by licensed Social Work staff and/or the state-certified rape crisis counselors (through the Victim Intervention Program)
- Referrals to free short and long-term counseling within the hospital
For more information on SAFE Centers of Excellence in New York State and NYSDOH Protocol for the examination of sexual assault, please visit the New York State Department of Health.