Followup Care

Ideally, counseling for sexual assault patients should be available 24 h a day in the emergency department. Often, a rape counselor will precede the physician in assessing a victim, preparing her for the examination, and providing moral support. Multidisciplinary sexual assault response teams are common in some areas of the country and work to provide coordinated, sensitive care of the sexual assault victim, including medical, legal, and psychological needs. 21 If no social worker or rape counselor is available when a sexual assault victim arrives, the physician should provide information on local rape counseling centers where the patient may seek further care.

Follow-up medical care is needed to ensure that any injuries have healed properly. In addition, follow-up at 7 to 14 days is necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the pregnancy prophylaxis and STD treatment. A male rape victim should be referred to an urologist or a proctologist. Young children should be referred to a pediatrician for evaluation. These follow-up instructions should be clearly explained in a written aftercare information sheet, as victims often recall very little of their emergency department encounter.10

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