Changing Clinical Workflow Around Sexual Assault

We’d like to introduce Dr. Nancy Kimber, a practicing gynecologist and a sexual assault consultant for the Long Beach, CA Police Department. Kimber will join us for the Patient Communication segment of our upcoming fall conference. A valuable addition to our Doctors 2.0 Pre-Conference Session and our panel discussion on EMRs, she offers a unique and grounded perspective on the challenges facing clinical work flow in one of health care’s most undeserved areas.

After finishing her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago, Kimber moved to southern California where she started her private practice in 1998 and graduated from the police academy three years later. She now serves as the medical director for a group of forensic nurses who perform sexual assault examinations at 16 different police agencies in her area.

Kimber’s interest in helping victims of sex crimes began when she was a resident. Without any training, she was called on to perform her first exam of a sexual assault victim. “I vividly remember going through this process, seeing this woman and trying to do the best that I could, having no idea what I was doing, and it really traumatized me,” Kimber said. “It made me realize how we, as a health care profession, have failed victims of violence.”

Kimber also travels the country, speaking to both health care providers and law enforcement officials about domestic violence; she trains providers how to identify victims, and she talks to officials about how to treat those who have dealt with domestic abuse. She advocates that doctors receive formal training on how to work with these patients. In fact, Kimber, herself, hopes to develop a curriculum that will be implemented in medical schools. After speaking with several residency program directors, she found there is very little — if any — formal training already in place. “If physicians or medical students and residents are not trained, then they’re not going to screen. And if they’re not screening, then victims are not going to get the help that they need,” Kimber said.

In order to develop victim treatment guidelines for doctors and law enforcement, Kimber sees a lot of work to be done in the way of data collection. She hopes she can begin this starting with the 16 police agencies she works with. Kimber wants to look at the correlation between an officer’s training and a victim’s forensic exam experience. How did they feel law enforcement treated them? Were they polite, supportive, judgmental or rude? Kimber realizes that, as with many data collection projects, there will be hurdles with this one. After a traumatic event, it’s difficult to convince victims to open up to others — even those who express their desire to help. But as a person with experience with and sympathy and deep concern for sexual assault victims, Kimber will continue to try.

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