Sacramento's forensic medical examiners treat patients, gather clues

City extends contract with Sutter Medical Foundation

On Tuesday, elected officials were slated to approve an agreement between the Sacramento Police Department and Sutter Medical Foundation for the latter to provide forensic medical exams to victims of sexual assault and child abuse.

The contract extension, which tops out at $1.25 million for up to five years, would be funded from the police department's operating budget. Sutter, whose current contract is set to expire September 30, was the only provider to respond to the department's request for proposals.

The contract maxes out at $250,000 a year for a range of services. Medical examiners providing expert testimony bank $150 an hour for court appearances. The forensic exams they provide run from $300 for an abbreviated sexual assault exam to $1,650 per day for an acute evidentiary exam that occurs after standard business hours.

These exams serve a dual role in that they render medical aid to the victim, while also collecting evidence for the criminal investigation.

The ones for sexual assault and child molestation survivors are especially intensive, according to the scope of service agreement. But there are also exams for victims of physical abuse or neglect, and abbreviated sexual-assault exams for survivors who “request a forensic evidentiary exam, but cannot obtain one by the usual pathways of law enforcement.”

Examiners are also tasked with collecting evidence from suspects, primarily by documenting injuries and taking blood, urine, DNA and hair samples.