National Protocol on Sexual Assault Forensic Exams
Thursday, November 11, 2004 11:05 AM

The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence against Women has released a National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations for Adults/Adolescents. The protocol contains detailed guidelines for criminal justice and health care practitioners in responding to the needs of victims of sexual assault. The protocol recognizes the need to conduct examinations in a sensitive, dignified and victim-centered manner. Also, in recognition that coordinated community efforts are the most effective way to stop violence against women, the protocol has been designed as a guide that combines cutting edge response techniques with collaboration among service providers in order to enhance communities’ ability to treat victims and punish sexual offenders.

Topics included in the protocol include: Coordinated Team Approach, Victim-Centered Care, Informed Consent, Confidentiality, Reporting to Law Enforcement, Payment for Examination under VAWA, as well Operational Issues and the Examination process. However, the protocol lacks any mention of emergency contraception, which disturbed many victim's advocates as well as many doctors. A discussion of emergency contraception between the health care provider and victim is standard medical protocol, and some states require that the victim be offered it. Critics also point out that only one page of the entire 141 page protocol is devoted to "pregnancy risk evaluation and care."

Compiled from: “A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations Adults/Adolescents,” U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, September 2004.

"Egypt Changes Courts; Rape Exam Guide Omits E.C.", Robin Hindery, Women's ENews, 30 Oct. 2004.