Report Outlines Screening and Treating Pediatric Sexual Assault

Physicians need to be comfortable screening for sexual assault, offering additional help if needed
Physicians need to be comfortable screening for sexual assault, offering additional help if needed

HealthDay News — Pediatricians should be comfortable with treating and screening for sexual assault, and they should know where to send their teenage patients for any additional help, according to a clinical report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published online February 27 in Pediatrics.

The report offers guidance for pediatricians on how to care for a patient in the more immediate aftermath of an assault. It also encourages doctors to routinely ask their teenage patients if they have ever been victimized. If the answer is yes, pediatricians should be ready to refer children and their families to appropriate community services. 

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The authors of the report also recommend the following: Provisions should be made immediately for a patient to be evaluated by an experienced provider if the pediatrician does not feel qualified to care for a patient in an acute situation; appropriate sexually transmitted infection screening and post-exposure prophylaxis should be made available per guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and, for reproductive-age patients who disclose sexual assault within 120 hours, emergency contraception should be offered.

"Pediatricians should be aware of the current reporting requirements related to sexual assault and state laws ensuring the rights of adolescents to obtain medical care at sexual assault or rape crisis centers in their states," the authors write.

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