A sex assault patient may have to wait a long period of time to be seen if there are other patients with life threatening injuries. The hospital should provide a private waiting area to protect anonymity.
Hospitals may notify law enforcement when a sex assault patient arrives in the emergency department. The patient has the right to refuse to speak with law enforcement.
If the assault has occurred within the last 72 hours, a forensic exam (a.k.a. the rape kit) will be performed to collect evidence. While 72 hours is a guideline for the forensic exam, that time may be extended depending on the circumstances. The responding officer needs to talk to the patient in order to authorize the forensic exam and to file a report. However, the patient may decide later not to press charges.
The patient's written consent is needed in order for the forensic exam to be completed. The exam should be explained to the patient prior to written consent. The patient can refuse any single or multiple steps of the exam even after written consent has been given.
In addition to the evidence collection, injuries will be treated and STD and pregnancy preventative medications may be offered.
It may be helpful for the patient to have a friend or family member there for support. If this is not an option, or the patient needs additional support, a RAAP case manager can be reached 24 hours a day through the rape crisis hotline 303-322-7273. RAAP can provide support throughout the entire process if needed.