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Forensic Nursing

Harris Health System’s Forensic Nursing Program is dedicated to providing compassionate, sensitive care for patients who are victims of interpersonal violence—sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and human trafficking.

One in three women and one in six men are survivors of sexual violence. If you have been sexually assaulted or abused, you are not alone. Our forensic nursing team is here to help you.

For survivors

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault. In an emergency, call 911.

Harris Health’s forensic nursing services are available 24/7. If you are a victim and need immediate assistance, call 911 or go to the nearest sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE)-ready facility. Visit the Texas Health and Human Services website for information for sexual assault resources.

For healthcare providers

If you are a medical facility and need to send a patient to one of our facilities for a forensic exam, contact the transfer center at 713-873-8601. For general questions that are not urgent, call the forensic nursing office at 713-873-2219.

About the forensic exam

First, the emergency center team checks to see if the patient has any injuries requiring immediate attention.

Second, patients answer health questions and details about the event to help guide the forensic nurse examiner in conducting the medical forensic exam. A forensic nurse (also referred to as a SANE) is a registered nurse who has been specially trained to offer compassionate medical forensic care and support on the victim’s behalf. The forensic nurse will guide the patient through the process.

Third, if the assault occurred within the last 120 hours, the forensic nurse will conduct a head-to-toe/full-body exam that includes collecting evidence such as hair combings, swabs and clothing during this examination.

Lastly, the team offers treatment for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.

You may decline any part of the exam.

Exams without law enforcement involvement

Adults age 18-64 may have evidence collected without reporting to law enforcement. Reporting is mandatory for minors, the elderly and mentally disabled adult survivors. The non-report option allows you to have your evidence collected and held at the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) crime lab anonymously for up to five years. At any time within those five years, you can choose to report and have your evidence transferred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for processing.

There is no cost for the medical forensic exam provided by the forensic nurse. If the assault is reported to law enforcement, the victim may qualify for monetary damages for the assault from the Crime Victim’s Compensation Program through the Office of the Attorney General of Texas.

Where to go for care

Harris Health Ben Taub Hospital Emergency Center
1504 Taub Loop
Houston, Texas 77030

Harris Health Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital Emergency Center
5656 Kelley Street
Houston, Texas 77026

Community Resources
Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse

Houston Area Women’s Center
713-528-RAPE (7273)

National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline

Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
1-800-656-(HOPE) 4673

Rescue America (trafficking)

The Bridge Over Troubled Waters