Forensic Medical Exams
The Dorchester Children’s Advocacy Center partners with The Medical University of South Carolina Department of Child Abuse Pediatrics to provide victims of child abuse and neglect access to a forensic medical exam. DCAC works collaboratively with MUSC to determine and address a child’s ongoing medical and mental health needs.
Medical Exam FAQs
The purpose of the exam is:
- To collect evidence of abuse
- To diagnose and treat injuries or sexually transmitted infections
- To assess for pregnancy
- To identify and document any forensically significant findings
- To identify any other medical conditions or psychiatric concerns.
- To provide reassurance to the child and family that his/her body is okay.
The Medical University of South Carolina Division of Child Abuse Pediatrics provides a licensed medical provider with training in medical evaluation and management to conduct medical evaluations and necessary follow-up at DCAC.
The MUSC Child Abuse Pediatrics (CAP) team consists of two board-certified child abuse pediatricians, five specially-trained nurse practitioners, and five sexual assault nurse examiners (SANE). The CAP Nurse Practitioners rotate between DCAC and other providing facilities.
A Forensic Medical Exam may be requested by the investigative team, such as The Department of Social Services or law enforcement, by a caregiver, or by a pediatric provider.
Exams that require immediate medical evaluation at MUSC Children’s Hospital Emergency Department include:
- 0-11 years of age- sexual assault within the past 72 hours
- 12-17 years of age- sexual assault within the past 96 hours
- Any child or teen with exposure to methamphetamine production within 24 hours of presentation.
Sexual assault kits are primarily done to collect evidence for local Law Enforcement and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED.)
If the abuse occurred greater than96 hours prior to the disclosure of the abuse, a non-emergent exam is conducted at DCAC (303 East Richardson Ave, Summerville, SC) by a medical provider. Most children with current marks, bruises, or other visible palpable injuries are seen for a non-acute exam at the CAC. However, if a child/teen has burns or broken bones due to possible physical abuse, they will need to be seen in the MUSC Children’s Hospital Emergency Department. If the child is younger than three years of age, they may require an x-ray or MRI at the hospital.
The medical exam will take place in a child-friendly room and is not invasive or painful. The exam will include a medical and social history from the caregiver, as well as the child. The child will receive a thorough head to toe exam similar to a normal check-up at a pediatrician’s office. This includes looking at their eyes, ears, mouth, skin, listening to their heart and lungs, and checking their abdomen. This exam will also include an external inspection of the genitalia and anal area to make sure they appear normal. It is important to understand that the child’s medical exam is different and less invasive than an adult pelvic examination. Though an exam is typically pain-free, occasionally lab work may need to be completed.
A typical exam usually lasts about an hour. Forensic medical exams often occur on the same day as a forensic interview which also takes approximately one hour to complete.
Please bring a current medical insurance card for your child(ren) and any other medical documentation you feel is important for the provider to know. Children are encouraged to bring along a stuffed animal or blanket to help them feel more relaxed. For most children, the check-up is not scary. Nevertheless, it is normal for your child to feel a little nervous, embarrassed or uncomfortable about the exam. Our staff takes as much time as your child needs to help them through the exam. The medical provider will also explain each step of the check-up along the way, to reduce your child’s stress.