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In Massachusetts, 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 6 men experience sexual violence in their lives according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.   They will go on to require medical and emotional care and specialized services that go far beyond what many hospital clinicians are trained to provide.


That’s where the Department of Public Health’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program comes in. SANE program experts are trained to meet the complex needs of sexual assault patients in the clinical environment. Nationally respected as a “gold standard” of this type of care, the Massachusetts SANE Program has cared for more than 27,500 patients during its 24-year history.

Every year, SANE specialists provide direct patient care for approximately 1,300 adult and adolescent patients. This trauma-informed care is delivered through in-person SANE emergency response services at 29 hospitals and via remote TeleSANE emergency response at 11 hospitals throughout the Commonwealth. The SANE program supports hospital staff in providing quality trauma-informed care to patients in emergency departments and intensive care units, and also via customized trainings, education, and expert consultation.

“We are proud of the services we provide and we are even more effective because of our collaboration with so many partners,” said DPH’s Joan Sham, Director of the SANE program.  “We work as a community team with our colleagues at Rape Crisis Centers, Children’s Advocacy Centers, the Department of Children and Families, and with police departments, district attorneys, and many others to facilitate the most effective sexual assault care.”

 The SANE program has earned praise, not only from the health care community, but also from the legal community. Prosecutors commend MA SANE for superior documentation, injury identification, experience, and skill in presenting expert court testimony, thereby assisting the Commonwealth’s successful prosecution of offenders.

 Every sexual assault patient deserves the best possible care and the SANE program, coupled with other health care and community support services, has earned its reputation for effective care and mitigating the long-term physical and mental health challenges of sexual assault patients throughout Massachusetts.

To learn more about the SANE program, visit

Written By:

Communications Director at the Department of Public Health

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