Advocates: Hospital Won’t Do Rape Exams - Diverse Health

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Advocates: Hospital Won’t Do Rape Exams



EL PASO, Texas —An El Paso nonprofit that helps sexual assault victims says about 15 victims have told them they were turned away while seeking a rape kit exam at a local hospital.

The hospital’s officials say they have just been providing victims with the option of going to facilities better equipped to work with such patients.

“The victims go to the hospital, get admitted into the (emergency room) to get checked, and when it comes down to doing the actual exam, they are told that the nurses are not trained or that they don’t have the rape kit test, a forensic exam,” Virginia Rueda, sexual assault services coordinator for the Center Against Sexual and Family Violence told the El Paso Times. She says the victims are told to go to another hospital and are discharged.

State law mandates that all hospitals with emergency rooms provide basic training for nurses to administer a rape kit, a sexual assault forensic exam that is provided to law enforcement.

Cindy Stout, the chief nursing officer at Del Sol Medical Center, said in a statement that the hospital complies with that law. She says it always has access to rape kits and has nurses that are trained in evidence collection.

But, she says, “health care professionals agree” it’s preferable for nurses conducting sexual assault exams to have attended training to receive certification as Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE).

Stout said that when sexual assault victims arrive at Del Sol, staff first treats any emergency condition and then notifies the victim that Del Sol is not a SANE-designated facility. She said the patient is encouraged to go to a SANE-designated hospital because of the level of expertise they provide, but can choose to stay at Del Sol.

“If a patient is not medically stable such that a transfer to a SANE-designated medical center is not in the patient’s best interest or if a patient would prefer to stay at Del Sol Medical Center, we have the ability to meet the patient’s needs on site, including performing the sexual assault examination,” Stout said.

In El Paso, there are only two SANE-designated hospitals.

Rueda said sending victims to other hospitals could make them miss the window for the exam or could discourage them from the process altogether.

“We know that most victims do not go to the hospital right away because there is an emotional process right after that,” Rueda said.