• Keep in mind that the evidence collection exam is likely to be the first significant physical contact that a patient will have following an assault.
  • Treat the patient with dignity and respect. Introduce yourself, acknowledge the trauma s/he has experienced, and explain the exam process.
  • Ask the patient for permission before touching her/him in any way.
  • Give the patient time to respond; try not to rush her/him.
  • Use open-ended questions such as, “what, how, where, tell me…, describe…” Avoid “why” questions.
  • Avoid judgmental responses and facial expressions.
  • Avoid use of the word “alleged” as it tends to creates the impression that you are doubtful about the patient’s truthfulness. Instead of recording “alleged sexual assault” as the chief complaint, simply record “sexual assault.” Instead of recording, e.g., “patient alleges” or “patient claims,” indicate that the “patient states…” Under “Impression/Diagnosis” use “sexual assault by history,” or “examination and history consistent with patient’s chief complaint of sexual assault.
  • Allow the patient to regain control and to make her/his own decisions.
  • Remember that although caring for sexual assault patients may be a routine procedure for medical personnel, a sexual assault is a traumatic, life changing event for the patient.