Friday, November 1, 2013

In a Volkswagen?
Margo was reviewing and updating the policies that dealt with the emergency room procedures. She assigned certain policies to the different nurses to review and to bring the old policies into compliance with new regulations and scope of practices. Annie and I were assigned the rape and sexual assault policy.

Annie was a good natured, older nurse who acted anything but old. It was great working with her.
We called several nearby hospitals and asked that they send a copy of their sexual assault policy to us. When we had six different versions, we reviewed them for their similarities. When a question or an item seemed to be a consistent through all of the different versions, we felt that it was a necessary component to a successful policy. It would be a policy that would treat the victim of the rape with compassion and yet make the gathering of evidence and information more complete for any police investigation. We felt that these were the basic items that needed to be included in our new policy.
We looked at our old policy and made an outline from it and then we reviewed the items gleaned from the other policies. Slowly, we integrated the two. We tossed out anything that seemed extraneous or repetitious. We streamlined and refined the whole policy, making it as concise as possible, and yet the process was going to take much more time to complete than the one we had now. We knew that there would be complaints from the other nurses.
We actually made a step by step check list and a questionnaire that would need to be completed by the nurse, as well as their assistance in the gathering of evidence. Even though our form was shorter than all of the other hospitals, completing our form was still time consuming, but we felt each question and each detail was necessary for the police who were investigating the assault. The data had to be available and correct to aid in the apprehension of the responsible person.

The nurses weren’t happy when they saw it. We tried to explain why each step was necessary, but we didn’t make any headway. The first nurse that had to use the new policy and questionnaire was not friendly to us at all. She pointed a finger at me specifically and said, “The next rape that comes in, you get to do it!”
Again I tried to explain that each step was necessary and that a woman would not be comfortable with a man examining her and asking these very personal questions. The nurse just gave me an icy stare.
“Okay.” I said half jokingly. “When a man who has been raped comes in to be treated, I’ll be glad to do it.”

Be careful what you say. You may have to back up those words with action. Before I left the emergency department a few months later to become a supervisor, a young man presented stating that he had been raped. And I got to use the policy for myself.
The rape had happened several days before, so I didn’t have to collect any evidence. My familiarity with the questions and not having to be careful in collecting evidence shortened the time consuming ordeal for me.
I still wonder to this very day, how two men could rape another guy in the back of a Volkswagen Beetle?

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