Health professionals about to see a patient following a sexual assault

Who can be referred to SARC

Metro

  • SARC doctors see people of all genders aged 13 years and over for medical and / or forensic assessment.
  • The SARC medical forensic team will see patients up to 2 weeks after a sexual assault.
  • SARC can see people whether or not they intend reporting to police.

SARC doctors may refer a patient to ED if SARC suspects a serious injury, acute psychiatric illness or intoxication which cannot be safely managed at SARC.

 

Regional and remote – WACHS

  • SARC doctors are on-call 24 hours a day for state-wide telephone advice to health professionals who are seeing patients alleging a recent sexual assault. This service is available to staff in all  regional, rural and remote areas. General practitioners are encouraged to contact SARC when seeing patients reporting sexual assault.

The doctors provide specific specialist advice to health professionals who have been asked to perform forensic specimen collection by the police.

If the assault was more than 2 weeks ago offer the patient the SARC counselling number (08) 6458 1828, 8:30am to 11pm.

Sexual assault history and management checklist

There are the recommended triage / checklist forms for patients presenting to EDs alleging recent sexual assault. (Note: these forms are double-sided.)

WACHS: WACHS SARC Emergency Care: History and Checklist (PDF)

Metro: Metro SARC Emergency Care: History and Checklist (PDF)

The form should go to your Health Service Forms Committee for approval before it’s used and retained in notes.

How to refer a patient to SARC

The SARC Duty Doctor can be directly contacted at SARC (08) 6458 1828 or via KEMH switchboard (08) 6458 2222.

To assist the SARC doctor to determine what support SARC will provide, please use the sexual assault history and management checklist when referring patients to SARC.

The patient will also be required to speak directly to a SARC counsellor for triage purposes. SARC is a voluntary service and the patient must understand and consent to being seen by SARC workers. The outcome of the triage will be communicated back to the referring doctor.

The SARC doctor will ask that any hospital notes and / or referral letter be emailed directly to SARCDRS@health.wa.gov.au.

Serious injury

If a patient has serious injuries, he / she should be triaged and treated medically as per the protocol of your department. Medical concerns take priority over forensic issues.

  • Assess and treat intoxication, poisoning, injuries and psychiatric emergencies as you would any other patient. Assess injuries specific to penetration, such as vaginal or anal pain or bleeding and abdominal pain. Ask about non-fatal strangulation and assess for complications.
  • If serious injuries are suspected, consider the need for surgical or gynaecological referral.
  • Where the patient requires surgical or gynaecological referrals and any internal examinations or procedures such as in-dwelling catheter insertion, include the SARC doctor in liaison so that arrangements for an appropriate forensic examination can be made.
  • If a foreign body is removed from the patient, document this removal and package up the foreign body in an appropriate forensic specimen collection bag.

Medical issues after an alleged sexual assault

Consider:

  • Emergency contraception
  • STI and blood-borne virus investigations and prophylaxis. Discuss with the SARC duty doctor first, especially if the patient is considering a forensic examination. 
  • Safe sex – advise the patient to practice safe sex and use condoms if assault was not by a usual sexual partner.
  • Advise patient to have a repeat sexual health screen at 2 to 4 weeks and repeat blood borne virus serology at 3 months, if relevant.
  • Provide the patient with contact numbers for SARC.
Last Updated: 17/12/2021