For Patients

Get a Forensic Exam at Mercy Medical Center

Sexual Assault Exams

Having a forensic exam can seem a little intimidating. That’s understandable. Knowing a little bit about what to expect can help you feel more comfortable with the process.

  • You can have a forensic exam up to 5 days after the assault. The Forensic Nurse Examiner program offers medical forensic examinations for patients who have been sexually assaulted in the last 120 hours (5 days). This type of exam is offered to patients ages 13 and older. If you or someone you care about is under the age of 13, please call 911 to be directed to the appropriate location near you for a pediatric examination.
  • Your exam will be performed by a specially trained nurse. The nurses who perform medical forensic exams at Mercy have been specially trained to work with patients who have recently been sexually assaulted. Part of their training includes learning how to collect and preserve evidence from your body and clothes that may be used later if an investigation occurs.
  • You do NOT need to report the assault to police to have an exam. If you have been assaulted and you do not wish to speak to the police for whatever reason, you may still have a confidential exam done. If you have this exam at Mercy Medical Center’s Forensic Nurse Examiner Program, we are able to store any evidence collected for up to 18 months. If at any point during that time you decide to report your assault to the police, you can have the evidence released to them.
  • You can stop at any time. If at any point you wish to stop, slow down, or take a break—you can. Having an exam is your choice, and we will respect your wishes.
  • Try not to pee. If you think that you were given a drug, try to avoid urinating until the exam. A forensic nurse can test your urine for traces of drugs that may be in your system. It’s understandable to feel the need to go to the bathroom after an experience like sexual assault. If you really need to go, please collect your urine in a clean container and save the toilet tissue from wiping in a paper/plastic bag. Bring both with you to your exam. The toilet tissue might contain evidence that can be collected by the forensic nurse.
  • Try not to eat, drink, or brush your teeth. During the exam, the nurse may be collecting evidence from your mouth. The forensic nurses make every attempt to get the exam done in a timely manner so you can get back to your routine as soon as possible.
  • Try not to shower or change your clothes. There could be hair, fluids, or other substances in your clothing that could be collected for evidence. If you have already changed, please bring the clothes you were wearing at the time the assault happened, including your underwear, with you to the hospital.
  • You will have support from trained professionals. You will be screened in the Emergency Department and taken to a private room to wait to be seen. A doctor will see you to address any immediate injuries or concerns. A patient advocate will also be called; they can speak with you about your safety and emotional concerns. They can also help provide access to other community services and resources for victims of sexual violence.
  • A forensic nurse will perform the exam and collect evidence. Your nurse will talk with you to understand what happened and complete a physical examination. The nurse will also collect evidence from your body and clothes. Some of these steps will depend on your experience and what happened to you. The exam may include:
    • Asking questions about your medical history as well as what happened to you during the assault
    • Taking pictures of any injuries you may have
    • Collecting your clothing for evidence
    • Collecting swabs for areas on your body that might have evidence on them
    • Testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), pregnancy, and signs of drug-facilitated assault (“date rape drugs”)
    • Providing medications to prevent pregnancy and STIs
  • You can find support in your local community. The forensic nurse or advocate can walk you through different forms of support in your local area such as affordable mental health care, support groups, and books or websites you can read through.
  • The evidence kit may not be tested right away. When you are finished with the exam, the forensic nurse will submit the evidence to the investigating police department for it to be tested and analyzed. This process doesn’t always happen quickly. If you have questions about the status of your kit, you can call the investigating police department. If you choose not to report to police, Mercy will store the kit in our secure evidence locker for 18 months. If you choose this option, the kit won’t be released to police unless you give us written permission to do so.
  • You are not alone. Check out our resources page for a list of local and national resources including 24 hours telephone and online hotlines for sexual assault survivors.

Interpersonal Violence Exams

If you have been assaulted by a partner, spouse, caregiver, friend or family member, it can be challenging to come forward. It’s important to treat any injuries you may have so that you can continue to care for yourself and your loved ones. Mercy Medical Center offers medical forensic examinations to identify, treat, and document injuries.

  • Your exam will be performed by a specially trained nurse. The nurses who perform medical forensic exams at Mercy have been specially trained to work with patients who have experienced violence. The forensic nurse and medical team work together to address both any emergent medical needs and provide written and photographic documentation of any injuries
  • You do NOT need to report the assault to police to have an exam. If you have been assaulted and you do not wish to speak to the police for whatever reason, you may still have a confidential exam done. Mercy’s nurses can still provide a medical forensic examination including photography and documentation of injuries.
  • You can stop at any time. If at any point you wish to stop, slow down, or take a break - you can. Having an exam is your choice, and we will respect your wishes.
  • You will have support from trained professionals. You will be screened in the Emergency Department and taken to a private room to wait to be seen. A doctor will see you to address any immediate injuries or concerns. A patient advocate will also be called; they can speak with you about your safety and emotional concerns. They can also help provide access to other community services and resources for victims of violence.
  • A forensic nurse will take a history and perform the exam. Your nurse will talk with you to understand what happened and complete a physical examination. The nurse may also take photographs and collect evidence from your body and clothes. Some of these steps will depend on your experience and what happened to you. The exam may include:
    • Asking questions about your medical history as well as what happened to you during the assault
    • Taking pictures of any injuries you may have
    • Collecting your clothing for evidence
    • Collecting swabs for areas on your body that might have evidence on them
  • You can find support in your local community. The forensic nurse or advocate can walk you through different forms of support in your local area such as affordable mental health care, support groups, and books or websites you can read through.
  • You are not alone. Check out our resources page for a list of local and national resources including 24-hour telephone and online hotlines for survivors.

Strangulation Assessment

The Forensic Nurse Examiner Program provides specialty services to patients reporting strangulation. Comprehensive patient assessment for patients who have been strangled (often referred to as “choking”) take place in the Mercy Medical Center Emergency Department. The program regularly uses an alternate light source during physical examination to aid in visualizing injuries.

Vulnerable Adult/Elder Abuse Assessment

Mercy Medical Center is a designated treatment center for sexual assault and domestic violence in Baltimore City, with 30 specially trained Forensic Nurse Examiners (FNEs) available 24/7 to care for victims of sexual assault (aged 13 and older), victims of domestic violence, elder/institutional and vulnerable populations abuse, neglect, and maltreatment.

Resources

Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm

410-332-9470

Onsite crisis intervention and safety planning for patients seen at Mercy Medical Center.

24 Hour Hotline 410-889-7884

www.hruth.org

24 hours hotline, emergency shelter, counseling, legal aid, intervention for abusers.

443-279-0379

www.turnaroundinc.org

24 hour hotline, group counseling, drop in center.

In an emergency call 911

Non-emergency services call 311

www.dpscs.state.md.us/victimservs/FAQcicb.shtml

Can assist in reimbursing costs associated with being a victim of a crime including medical costs, and councelling.

www.loveisrespect.org

Online chat hotline: Go to www.loveisrespect.org and click on the “Chat Online Now”

Text hotline: Text LOVEIS to 22522

www.joinonelove.org

Free smartphone applications for patients and providers related to assessing safety in relationships.

www.avp.org/

24/7 Hotline for LGBTQI Survivors (English and Spanish): 212-714-1124

forge-forward.org/

Serves transgender and gender nonconforming survivors of domestic and sexual violence; provides referrals to local counselors.

Hotline: 888-373-7888

Text hotline: Text INFO or HELP to 233733 (BeFree)

Confidential hotline for victims of human trafficking. Available in over 170 languages.

Tip line (to report suspected trafficking): 866-347-2423

www.justice.gov/elderjustice/

Search function for local reporting and support services.

FAQ

Maybe: Patients will not be billed for sexual assault forensic evaluations. Patients who choose to be seen by a medical provider only and not participate in forensic evidence collection will be billed for medical care provided. Patients or their insurance companies will be billed for medical screening, care and treatment related to interpersonal violence that does not involve sexual assault.

No: Patients do not need to speak to the police in order to have a forensic medical examination.

No: You can be seen in the Emergency Department for a sexual assault or interpersonal violence exam regardless of your immigration status.

Records can be released directly to patients with a signed release form. Your lawyer can also subpoena a copy or use in court if necessary. For questions or to arrange to get a copy of your records, please call the forensic nursing office at 410-332-9494.

bMoreSafe App

  • The bMOREsafe app can help you to know what resources are available to you
  • The bMOREsafe app lets you know what to expect after you have been abused or assaulted, and gives you back the power of choice.
  • Get medical help, police help, or call a crisis hotline all with the touch of a button. Choose what services are most important to you and get the help you need.
  • The easy to use, touch screen format is question-driven and designed for use by high school and college students.
  • The bMOREsafe app addresses the needs of patients in the Baltimore area by providing resources for those who have been victims of sexual or domestic assault.
  • A must-see for health educators everywhere! A must download for all high school and college students.
Get the App
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