In an effort to improve treatment of sexual assault patients, the Illinois attorney general is proposing a bill to ensure that patients are treated in a timely, effective, and compassionate manner.
The proposed bill would require hospitals to provide a specially-trained medical provider within 90 minutes of a sexual assault patient’s arrival. Although health experts recommend that nurse who treat sexual assault patients are specially trained, many nurses do not undergo any special training; this bill would require such training for frontline nursing staff. Attorney General Lisa Madigan hopes that the new law will force hospitals to improve access to training for their staff: “It is clear that until Illinois has a law that requires specialized care for children and adults who are sexually assaulted, it is unlikely the victims of these terrible traumas will receive the care they need and deserve from Illinois hospitals.”
Though most hospitals support the bill, they are pushing back against this effort, arguing that the time table for implementation is too short. The bill would require that hospitals meet this new standard by 2021, and officials claim that that is simply not enough time to comply. They also worry that the compressed schedule would lead nurses to burnout and lessen the number of nurses in the state.
Meanwhile, nurses say that they’ve been stymied from pursuing sexual assault care training because hospitals do not provide paid time off to complete the clinical hours or fund expenses associated with the training.
As part of this effort, the state’s attorney general’s office will offer free classes for nurses on recognizing trauma and collecting evidence of sexual assault, and has promised to offer more training sessions as needed.
Source: The Chicago Tribune