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Texas Evidence Collection Protocol is used by responders to sexual assault
The Texas Evidence Collection Protocol, a standardized guide for the state’s health care and law enforcement professionals to respond to sexual assault, was recently updated to include the latest research and best practices. The protocol is a joint project between the Texas A&M Health Center of Excellence in Forensic Nursing and the Texas Office of the Attorney General.
The protocol offers detailed recommendations for medical, legal, law enforcement, advocacy and forensic science professionals to identify, collect and preserve physical evidence after a sexual assault. The guidelines were designed to minimize physical, psychological and spiritual trauma experienced post-sexual assault.
Established in 2019 to advance forensic nursing education, outreach and research, the Center of Excellence in Forensic Nursing is a federally and state-funded program that operates in the Texas A&M School of Nursing.
The center and Texas Attorney General Sexual Assault Prevention and Crisis Services Program partnered to publish a modernized protocol in 2019—the first update since 1998.
“It’s imperative that law enforcement and health care professionals are empowered with the most up-to-date knowledge and best practices when responding to sexual assault,” said Attorney General Ken Paxton. “These updates to the Texas Evidence Collection Protocol help accomplish that. We will continue to work diligently to support victims of sexual assault and ensure that those committing these heinous crimes are brought to justice.”
The protocol’s latest version was influenced by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for sexually transmitted infections, legislative changes, the impact of supply chain issues and scholarly research. It additionally defines specific processes for sexual assault health care on military installations. Responders to sexual assault will also find fillable PDF forms for evidence collection.
A 34-member advisory board of subject-matter experts managed the updates. The group included forensic nurses, physicians, forensic scientists, attorneys, law enforcement officials, children’s advocacy representatives and more.
“It’s vitally important that those with the difficult job of responding to sexual assault have the latest information on properly collecting evidence using a patient-centered, trauma-informed approach,” said Laurie Charles, MSN, RN, CA-CPSANE, SANE-A, SANE-P, CHSE, AFN-C, DF-AFN, clinical assistant professor at the center and project’s lead faculty member. “The top experts in forensic health care advised on the protocol’s updates, ensuring it is evidence based, comprehensive and consistent.”
The Texas Evidence Collection Protocol is available for review and download at forensic-nursing.tamu.edu/tecp.
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