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State looks to increase nurses trained to treat rape victims

UPDATED: Fri., March 16, 2018, 7:47 a.m.

FILE – Kelley Murphy, right, an emergency room nurse at Deaconess, talks to Wendy Musser, left, and Robin Gailley, second from left, about completing a “rape kit” on sexual assault victims during a class for nurses and other health care and law enforcement professionals Friday, May 24, 2013 at the Washington State University Nursing building in Spokane. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE – Kelley Murphy, right, an emergency room nurse at Deaconess, talks to Wendy Musser, left, and Robin Gailley, second from left, about completing a “rape kit” on sexual assault victims during a class for nurses and other health care and law enforcement professionals Friday, May 24, 2013 at the Washington State University Nursing building in Spokane. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

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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