Nursing Shortage Just Part of the Heartbreak for Rape Victims

One of the worst crimes ever committed against a person is a rape. It is deeply violating and humiliating and victims struggle with the trauma for years. Compounding the problem with a shortage of nurses is almost a crime in itself.

For those rape victims who are brave enough to report the crime, they are now sometimes subjected to waiting for as long as twelve hours before being examined by a medical professional. The nursing shortage is to blame for this wait, as well as a lack in qualified forensic nurses who serve on the Sexual Assault Response Teams. This appalling situation will only get worse if hospitals and other entities funding these nurses don’t do something about it.

Instead of finding other ways to trim the budget, staffing is cut short and nurses are expected to do a lot more – work extra shifts and juggle more responsibilities – all without extra compensation. These hard-working nurses become frustrated with the system and quit because they feel they have no support from the upper echelons. This translates into poor service and longer treatment times in the emergency rooms.

When a rape case comes in and is expected to wait, sometimes for hours, there is something wrong. A crime has been committed and the victim has crucial evidence of that crime on their person. By having to wait, there is a huge probability of losing critical evidence. Not only that, the rape victim has been traumatized and thanks to the very system that is supposed to help people, they are actually doing more harm.

Just imagine being personally violated like that and not being able to eat, get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, change clothes, or take a bath. Some rape victims who have long waits in the emergency room to be examined end up giving up and going home, just so they can scrub themselves down and wash away the “dirtiness” they feel. Their attackers now get off because the evidence is gone.

The healthcare system is neglecting these victims just as sure as they are the nurses. It is not the nurses’ fault that there are not enough personnel to cover these emergencies. It’s time to look to the number crunchers and corporate suits that make or break the budgets. Instead of padding their expense accounts and bonus checks, they should be finding creative ways to make the budget work and hire more nurses.

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