Staff at the Laurens County Memorial Hospital raised the ire of Laurens County Sheriff Don Reynolds after doctors and nurses failed to collect evidence from a rape victim this past Thursday.
According to a release from the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) was not on duty to perform the examination, and hospital staff refused to perform the exam, suggesting instead the victim be transported to Greer. The victim refused transport.
“An investigator with the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office talked with hospital personnel and explained the concerns with asking an extremely traumatized victim to travel to another county for this procedure,” the LCSO release stated. “Due to the overwhelming trauma, the victim declined to go to Greer.”
Greenville Hospital System Spokesman Dudley Brown said in a statement that a doctor can perform the exam if the patient grants consent, though it is preferred that a SANE to give the exam.
“It is general practice at all GHS facilities to have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) provide the exam because these nurses have special training and often provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial,” Brown said in the hospital’s statement. “If a SANE nurse is not present, we offer patients the opportunity to be immediately transported to a facility where a SANE nurse is available. If a patient does not want to be transported, a doctor can perform the exam. However, patient consent must be given for the exam to be performed.”
John David Hall, of Easley, was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and breach of peace of a high and aggravated nature.
According to the LCSO, Hall forcibly entered the victim’s residence, cut her and “brutally sexually assaulted her.”
The LCSO release said the hospital’s reaction in the case was “unacceptable.”
“It is unbelievable that a victim of such a horrendous crime would have to travel to another county for the collection of evidence,” the release stated. “This jeopardizes the investigation and puts the victim and others at further risk of harm. Fortunately, in this situation, there was enough evidence to move forward and arrest the individual responsible for assaulting the victim.”
GHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Catherine Chang responded further Tuesday with a statement reiterating healthcare system’s practice of using SANE staff members for exams concerning sexual assault.
“While we cannot discuss the specifics of this particular case due to patient privacy, I can assure you that we followed the law and that all appropriate medical protocols were followed,” Chang’s statement read in part. “Patients are the focus of everything we do, and we strive to provide the best care possible to all of our patients.”
Here is the entire statement from Chang released by GHS:
“Every patient who visits an emergency department at any one of our hospitals receives a medical screening exam to determine if they have an emergent medical condition. If such a condition exists, the patient is stabilized within the capabilities of that hospital. If the hospital doesn’t have the capabilities to treat the patient, the patient is provided an appropriate transfer to another facility.
In the case of a sexual assault, it is general practice at all of our facilities to have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) provide a sexual assault exam because these nurses have special training in medical forensics and often provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial. If a SANE-certified nurse is not present, we offer patients the opportunity to be immediately transported to a facility where a SANE-certified nurse is available. If a patient doesn’t want to be transported, a doctor can perform the exam. However, in all cases, a patient must give consent for the exam to occur. If a patient does not consent or says they want to leave, we must respect their wishes.
While we cannot discuss the specifics of this particular case due to patient privacy, I can assure you that we followed the law and that all appropriate medical protocols and policies were followed. Patients are the focus of everything we do, and we strive to provide the best care possible to all of our patients.”
– Catherine Chang, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Greenville Health System