Your article on hospital emergency rooms turning away rape victims (Part I, Sept. 19) correctly identifies problems for the victims exacerbated by the new state protocols. However, the article places undue emphasis on financial concerns as a hospital's reason for not performing rape evidentiary exams. And it did not mention problems caused for other patients waiting to be seen in an emergency department when a rape victim is present.
I work in a large urban medical center whose administration wants to perform this service. However, it is opposed nearly unanimously by the emergency physicians.
We see a volume of 120 patients per day with a staffing of 38 physician hours. Caring for an average of three new patients per hour, we are extremely busy.
To evaluate and treat a rape victim for medical problems takes about 20 minutes. This can and should be done by physicians in every hospital emergency room. It is, however, the evidentiary aspect of further examination which causes problems. Here the physician and staff are asked to spend several hours, no longer for medical evaluation and treatment, but in forensic collection for the district attorney.