Forensic nursing program proposed They would gather evidence in rape cases

July 08, 1998|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

Howard County's Sexual Assault Center and Howard County General Hospital want to fund a program to train nurses to collect forensic evidence from rape and sexual assault victims.

If their joint grant proposal is approved by the state, specially trained nurses would be on call 24 hours a day to treat and examine rape victims admitted to the hospital after an assault.

Cheryl DePetro, executive director of the Sexual Trauma Treatment, Advocacy and Recovery (STAR) Center and the grant's co-author, says evidence collected during a hospital exam begins a process that ends in a courtroom.

Nurses working at Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine would go through 40 hours of forensics training at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, where 90 percent of the city's rape victims go after an assault and where forensic nursing program has been in place since early 1994.

Part of the training will include learning how to collect traces of blood, semen and other DNA evidence from victims and measuring the width of bruises and contusions on the victim's skin.

Nurses will also learn to examine patients with a calpascope, which takes pictures of abrasions inside the victim's vagina.

Dr. M. Christine Jackson, medical director of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner Program at Mercy Medical Center, says the forensic program teaches nurses how to look at a victim accurately.

Pub Date: 7/08/98

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