Develop a SART
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Shared Language

Consider the Impact of Your Words

You need to be especially attentive about language used in the health care and justice systems. Victims turn to these places for help, healing, and fairness. Every single word and phrase has vital consequences for restoring victims' trust and well-being. For this reason, it is not only important both to know and understand the language of each other's disciplines, but to create a shared SART language accepted by all participating agencies.

For example, one forensic nurse has stated, "The choice of words can make a big difference in the forensic medical exam report, especially in court." The nurse stated that she learned about the importance of language the hard way—the first time she testified in court. The defense attorney tried to discredit the victim because the nurse had documented "patient refused" for a procedure that many other jurisdictions no longer consider important. The nurse learned that in the future it would be better to document "patient declined" on the forensic medical exam form.3