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This Bill Could Change The Way Hospitals Handle Sexual Assault

Too few hospitals employ trained sexual assault examiners, and this bill wants to change that.
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This Bill Could Change The Way Hospitals Handle Sexual Assault

The suicide of a former college student has prompted legislation to change the way hospitals respond to sexual assault.

On Thursday, Reps. Ted Poe and Carolyn Maloney filed the Megan Rondini Act, which would require hospitals to have — or at least have access to — a 24/7 sexual assault forensic examiner.

It's named for Megan Rondini, who killed herself after reporting that she was sexually assaulted while attending the University of Alabama. BuzzFeed reports the hospital she went to might not have carried out the proper test. And spokespeople from the hospital told BuzzFeed it didn't employ any sexual assault nurse examiners at the time of Rondini's examination.

Back in June, Rep. Poe said that the lack of those hospital resources contributed to Rondini's death.

"The hospital wasn't sufficiently trained in sexual assault procedure and botched the rape kit," Poe said.

Experts and activists say the lack of medical professionals trained in sexual assault examination is a national issue. Currently, there are only 700 sexual assault nurse examiner programs in the U.S. In Las Vegas — where over 750 cases of sexual assault were reported in less than a year — there are only two nurses specialized to perform the exam.

The Violence Against Women Act actually requires the development of sexual assault nurse examiner programs, but a 2016 report from the Government Accountability Office shows that states aren't spending the federal grants for it. 

After BuzzFeed published its story, the DCH Regional Medical Center — where Rondini went for her examination — began training and certifying nurses in sexual assault examination.