Assault victims and justice focus of hospital staff training

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CHICAGO -- When it comes to catching a sexual assault offender, the first and perhaps most important steps occur in the hospital.

Health officials are hoping to train doctors to help police officers as well as their patients.

Wednesday, in addition to their medical training, residents at Rush University Medical Center got a lesson in criminology and trauma sensitivity.

One in three women will end up in the emergency room as a victim of sexual assault. After such intense violation, even a doctor’s touch can be jarring.

Experts say communication is key but so is every action, even something as simple as adjusting the hospital bed.

The four hour course covered every detail of treating sexual assault survivors.

Dr. Dino P. Rumoro, chairman of emergency medicine at Rush said the course covered, “How to deal with victims or survivors of sexual assault, how to make sure they are as comfortable as can be during a very trying time. And proper evidence collection.”

Hands on experience is the key to success. Illinois has a 40 hour program. Rush condensed the time, but not the intensity.

“It’s a time where we have to make sure we are not only treating them compassionately, but that we do everything correctly because we are dealing now with forensic evidence that can lead to a conviction,” Dr. Rumoro said.

“There are a lot of nuances to the communication style you want to use when speaking to survivors,” medical student Kaitlynn Tracy said. “(One should use) a way to make them more comfortable when they are coming in for treatment.  As that first line of treatment we want  to make sure they had all the tools they needed to be empathetic providers.”

And proper evidence collection means law enforcement has all the tools they need to bring the attacker to justice.

Rush is working with victim advocates to track the results of the programs for both patient care and conviction rates.



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