Study objective: There is little information about sexual violence cases treated in emergency departments (EDs). This study describes ED visits associated with sexual violence and considers the associated health care burden.
Methods: A descriptive analysis was conducted using nationally representative data on nonfatal injury-related ED visits identified in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) as sexual violence. To better understand these NEISS-AIP data, additional information about ED management of cases was collected, and additional information was collected from NEISS-AIP coders to determine the percentage of hospitals serving as designated examination facilities for sexual assault.
Results: Of all assault visits to the ED, 4.2% were sexual assault related, which represents an estimated 143,647 ED visits for sexual assault in 2001 to 2002. The majority of sexual assault-related visits involved female and young patients. Nearly half of ED visits for sexual violence had missing perpetrator data. Additional data from hospitals revealed that in 77.8% of the 54 sexual assault cases, someone with specific training completed the examination, and the majority of the hospitals in this study serve as designated examination facilities for sexual assault.
Conclusion: Given the dearth of national data on sexual violence cases presented at US EDs, the data presented in this article are useful to understand the impact of sexual violence on the health care system at a national level. More complete documentation of sexual assault-related cases in EDs is needed to get a better estimate of the problem in future studies.