Officials: Hospitals' Help Needed in Sexual Assault Training for Nurses

Article excerpt

Getting hospital administrators' support and assistance is crucial to the effort to provide better services for victims of sexual assault, members of a legislative task force learned Tuesday.

The cost of providing the specialized services required for sexual assault victims is just one of the factors that has caused a number of hospitals, particularly those facilities serving rural areas, to refuse to participate in sexual assault programs.

"I've been told, 'I don't want to be the rape hospital, find somewhere else to go,'" said Jennifer McLaughlin, a member of the Oklahoma Task Force to Stop Sexual Violence.

Victims of sexual assault require more than routine medical attention, said McLaughlin. Treatment is complicated because of the psychological trauma induced by such an attack and because of the need for physical evidence of the assault to be collected in a way that can aid in prosecuting the crime. However, very few nurses in Oklahoma have been trained in how to properly conduct a sexual assault examination.

Increasing training opportunities for nurses will not accomplish much without the aid of hospitals, said task force member Kathy Middleton of the Oklahoma Health Department. The department provided Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, training for three years, training about 100 nurses, but has since discontinued the program, she said.

The nurses received 40 hours of classroom training under the program. …