Alternate light sources in sexual assault examinations: An evidence-based practice project


Kelli Eldredge RN, MSN, CCRN, SANE-A, Clinical Nurse III/Clinical Educator, Trauma Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Wellspan Health, York Hospital, 1001 South George Street York, Pennsylvania 17403; E-mail:


The ability of sexual assault nurse examiners to correctly identify and collect DNA evidence improves patient outcomes and prosecution rates. The purpose of this paper is to present findings from a collaborative evidence-based practice (EBP) project between forensic nurses and baccalaureate nursing students. The goal of the project was to determine best practice using an alternate light source (ALS) to identify trace DNA evidence in sexual assault forensic examinations. Using the Johns Hopkins Nursing Evidence-based Practice model, the team searched several databases to summarize the limited amount of evidence available regarding this topic. Recommendations from the EBP project include: elimination of the Wood's lamp in sexual assault examinations; use of an ALS that provides appropriate wavelengths to detect DNA; education of forensic nurses about the advantages and limitations of an ALS; and additional research related to use of an ALS. By participating in similar collaborative efforts, practicing forensic nurses have the opportunity to collaborate with local colleges and universities to make complex projects more manageable while fulfilling the International Association of Forensic Nurses vision for ethical practice.