OLYMPIA – Washington will try to increase the number of nurses trained to treat sexual assault victims under a bill signed Thursday.
Washington hospitals, particularly in rural areas, have a shortage of sexual assault nurse examiners, who are trained to treat rape victims and collect the evidence necessary to arrest a suspect. Witnesses told legislators that improperly performed rape exams can be a second assault and untrained personnel can lose evidence, making it difficult or impossible to get a conviction.
A new law that takes effect in June directs the Office of Crime Victims Advocacy to find ways for communities to create more access to trained nurses through partnerships, mobile teams and groups with multiple medical disciplines.
The office must provide a report to the governor and the Legislature at the beginning of 2019 on strategies to improve training and increase the number of nurse examiners.
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