Med students 'need rape victim training'

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British medical students should be advised on how to treat victims of rape, it has been argued.

The editorial of this week's Lancet health journal says that more consistent treatments could help end the "appalling" statistic that five per cent of reported rapes end in a conviction.

Today's article cites a report from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) that sheds light on the increased role industrial cleaners A-butyrolactone and 1,4-butanediol were playing in rape cases.

"This reality makes a recent ruling by a UK appeal court that a student was not raped, because she had voluntarily consumed large quantities of alcohol, even more troubling," the editorial continues.

According to the Lancet, the ACMD has recommended that the Department of Health (DoH) develop new guidelines for staff in accident and emergency departments to improve the management of victims of rape involving drugs.

The editorial asks: "Because people who have been sexually assaulted often do not seek help from emergency departments or the police, should other health-care professionals be trained in the management of rape and sexual assault instead?

"Doctors in different specialties are likely to encounter people who have been sexually assaulted, but often have not received any training in this area. Correct examination, evidence gathering, and immediate medical care are essential but often lacking as the latest report from the Crown Prosecution Service inspectorate highlights," it continues.

"A recent survey of UK medical schools showed that only a quarter provide teaching about sexual assault, with many thinking that this topic is too specialist for the undergraduate curriculum. By contrast, in other countries, such as Canada, training in how to deal with victims of sexual assault is routinely given to medical students."

The editorial concludes: "The UK survey concluded that because rape is so common and traumatic, all medical schools should consider teaching in this area. Victims of rape deserve a better response, and teaching future doctors how to respond would be a good start."

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