Sen­a­tor cites lack of nurses trained in sex­ual-as­sault cases

Modern Healthcare - - REGIONAL NEWS - —all sto­ries by Adam Ruben­fire

U.S. Sen. Patty Mur­ray (D-Wash.) has raised con­cerns about the avail­abil­ity of Sex­ual As­sault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) at hos­pi­tals that serve her con­stituents in Washington state. Ad­vo­cates say a lack of re­sources has made this a prob­lem na­tion­wide.

Mur­ray sent a strongly worded let­ter to the Washington State Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion af­ter a lo­cal TV news sta­tion ques­tioned whether hos­pi­tals have enough nurses who are trained to col­lect ev­i­dence of sex­ual as­sault through a med­i­cal foren­sic ex­am­i­na­tion, com­monly re­ferred to as a rape kit. It’s not un­com­mon for a larger hos­pi­tal to have a SANE avail­able 24/7, but ex­perts say the na­tion still doesn’t have enough SANEs to ad­e­quately serve vic­tims.

In her let­ter, Mur­ray told the as­so­ci­a­tion that she has grown “in­creas­ingly con­cerned” about the ob­sta­cles sex­ual as­sault sur­vivors can face in ob­tain­ing a foren­sic exam. There are no data at the state level not­ing which hos­pi­tals have trained nurses and foren­sic kits avail­able, and there’s a lack of uni­for­mity in the in­for­ma­tion given to vic­tims, she noted.

Mur­ray asked the as­so­ci­a­tion to cre­ate an ac­tion plan for en­sur­ing hos­pi­tals have ex­am­i­na­tions on-site, train more providers to be SANEs and iden­tify what needs to be done in sex­u­alas­sault cases, even if a hos­pi­tal does not em­ploy an ex­am­iner.

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