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WFUBMC Establishes Special Nursing Service for Abuse Victims

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center has established a special service within its Emergency Department to treat victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. It is scheduled to go into service on July 1.

Under the Forensic Nurse Examiner Program, a dozen Emergency Department nurses have completed 40 hours of course work to teach them how to collect evidence, perform physical examinations and administer medications according to protocols for abuse victims.

"Sexual assault victims are taken to a special examining room away from the traffic of the Emergency Department," said Tami Taylor, R.N., a forensic nurse examiner. "It''s completely private and allows them to receive treatment in an environment designed to comfort them and protect their dignity." A private conference room nearby is available for law enforcement officials to take statements from victims.

With their expanded skills, forensic nurse examiners are trained to perform pelvic examinations of sexual assault victims and collect evidence without the presence of a physician. However, each patient initially receives a screening examination by a physician or physician assistant before a forensic nurse examiner collects evidence.

"Because we now have a team of nurses trained to do these procedures, sexual assault victims can receive treatment much faster," said Patricia A. Baines, M.D., medical director of the program. "In cases of child sexual abuse, a physician will continue to be present during the examination."

A vital component of the program is the collection of evidence for criminal

prosecution. Therefore, nurses trained in the program are given a glimpse of the criminal justice system. In addition to 40 hours of course work, each is required to spend eight hours riding with law enforcement officers and 16 hours observing abuse cases in local courtrooms. Finally, they must complete 25 pelvic examinations under the supervision of a physician.

An open house to honor the new graduates of the Forensic Nurse Examiner Program is scheduled for Wednesday June 28 from noon until 4 p.m. in the Emergency Department Conference Room. For information, call 713-3110.

The Medical Center''s Emergency Department treats more than 57,000 patients annually.

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Contact: Jim Steele, Rae Beasley, or Mark Wright, (336) 716-4587.

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