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Sexual Assault-Related ED Visits Up in the U.S. From 2006 to 2019

Likelihood of presenting to emergency department after sexual assault increased for female, younger, and lower-income individuals

FRIDAY, Oct. 21, 2022 (HealthDay News) — There was an increase in sexual assault (SA) survivors seeking emergency department (ED) care from 2006 to 2019 but a decrease in admission rates for these visits, according to a study published online Oct. 20 in JAMA Network Open.

Emily L. Vogt, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues quantified ED use and factors influencing seeking ED care for adult SA survivors from 2006 through 2019. Data were included from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample, which included more than 35.8 million observations of U.S. ED visits from 989 hospitals.

From 2006 to 2019, data from 120 to 143 million weighted ED visits were reported annually. The researchers found that SA-related ED visits increased from 3,607 in 2006 to 55,296 in 2019 (>1,533.0 percent); admission rates for these visits decreased from 12.6 to 4.3 percent concurrently. The likelihood of presenting to the ED after SA was increased for female, younger, and lower-income individuals. Admission was more likely among older and Medicaid-insured patients. The rate of ED visits for SA outpaced law enforcement reporting.

“Medical professionals in EDs and inpatient and outpatient care settings must consider the utilization patterns and survivor populations presented here to better understand emergency medical care seeking for SA,” the authors write. “Although medical help seeking is just one piece of the broader picture of SA in the United States, we as health care professionals are responsible for supporting survivors in seeking care to prevent unnecessary long-term physical or emotional sequelae.”

One author disclosed ties to the health insurance industry; a second received fees from pharmaceutical companies.

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