Sexual assault-related ER visits increase more than tenfold: The rise in people seeking emergency medical care after sexual assault outpaces the growth of law enforcement reporting, study suggests

An increasing number of people are seeking emergency medical help for sexual assault, a new study suggests.

Emergency departments saw 15 times more sexual assault related visits in the past decade, outpacing the growth of law enforcement reporting, according to the research in JAMA Network Open.

“Sexual assault is a disturbing and prevalent trend in the U.S. We know that people who experience sexual assault face numerous emergent health problems but few seek emergency medical care,” said senior author Erica Marsh, M.D., chief of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Center for Reproductive Medicine at University of Michigan Health Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital.

“These findings demonstrate the role that healthcare providers can play in improving long-term medical and psychosocial health for these individuals.”

A new sexual assault is estimated to occur every 68 seconds in the U.S. with nationally reported rapes and sexual assaults increasing from 93,000 in 2006 to 139,815 in 2019, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Studies suggest that people who have experienced sexual assault are at greater risk for suicidal ideation, posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, substance use and chronic conditions than peers who have not.

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