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Standardized Protocol for Medical Forensic Exams—Ohio

The Protocol for the Treatment of Adult and Adolescent Sexual Assault Patients was created to guide practitioners to provide comprehensive, standardized, equitable treatment to sexual assault victims.

To ensure that all victims of sexual assault receive the best possible care in the emergency department and that evidence is collected correctly.

Making the Idea a Reality
An interdisciplinary group wrote and continues to update the protocol. Additionally, the group collaborates to implement trainings in the protocol throughout Ohio.

Triage guidelines in a hospital setting

  • Patient should be seen by a health care provider within 15 minutes of arrival, or as soon as possible thereafter.
  • Patient should be given priority for room assignment in a private area.
  • Regardless of whether the patient chooses to proceed with legal prosecution or to talk with law enforcement personnel, health care providers need to provide swift and immediate medical care to the patient.
  • A hospital/facility is obligated under Ohio law to report sexual assaults, but the law does not require that patients' names be given. If patients decide not to report, the hospital/facility gives law enforcement dates and general locations of assaults without giving patients' names, addresses, or other identifying information.
  • Medical personnel need to inform patients of their rights about whether or not to speak to law enforcement personnel.
  • Rape crisis advocates are contacted at the same time physicians or SANEs are called and should be present when advocate support is offered to patients.
  • To ensure that patients feel safe about saying who they would like present during procedures, medical personnel should ask everyone accompanying patients to leave the room prior to examination. At this time, patients should again be consulted as to whom, if anyone, they would like as onsite support.
  • SART team members' roles need to be decided prior to a patient's arrival. If disagreement arises between service providers and/or with support persons, discussions must take place at a later time or away from patients.
  • Speaking to law enforcement can never be a precondition to the collection of evidence. Most communities in Ohio do not conduct joint interviews, but even if community protocols call for joint interviews, patients must always have the right to make final decisions about who is present during medical interviews and evidence collection.

Benefits to Victims
Victims receive consistent quality of care.

Benefits to Victim Service Professionals
Evidence is collected and managed correctly.

Lessons Learned
Changes occur frequently in the protocol and new areas continually need to be addressed. Service providers are now asked to check the Ohio Department of Health's Web site regularly to ensure that they use the most recent version of the protocol.

Contact Information
Ohio Department of Health
246 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215