Illinois nurses to complete sexual assault training sooner

CHICAGO (AP) — A new amendment to proposed Illinois legislation would require hospitals to train nurses in sexual assault care by 2021.

A previous draft of the proposal gave hospitals until 2023 to have a specially trained medical provider present within 90 minutes of a sexual assault patient’s arrival, The Chicago Tribune reported .

The new timeframe to implement the changes may be too short, according to David Gross, senior vice president of government relations for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association.

“Many of our hospitals will not be able to meet this deadline,” he said during a Wednesday hearing before the House Human Services Committee. “We just don’t think the math works.”

The state’s 160 hospitals that perform sexual assault exams would need to train about 650 nurses, Gross estimated. Training can take up to 18 months and the grueling course can cause burnout, he said.

Nurses are taught how to conduct genital exams, record injuries and ask questions that don’t add to a patient’s trauma. Someone without training can behave in a way that may make a patient feel guilty or doubted. The evidence that trained nurses collect can also bolster a prosecution against an offender.

The legislation would also require hospitals that treat pediatric sexual assault patients to give physicians and nurses in the emergency department at least two hours of sexual assault training annually.

Republican Rep. Michael Unes has worked on the legislation for two years and said that many hospitals support the effort to increase training.

“At the end of the day, we have to get this corrected, because right now we have individuals who are in a situation where because we don’t have this bill, they’re not necessarily being seen by the most qualified professional,” he said.

The newspaper’s investigation found that few of the state’s registered nurses undergo such training.

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