What to Expect at The Hospital
When you arrive at the emergency department, you will speak to an admitting clerk who will ask:
- your name
- date of birth
- reason for coming to the Emergency Department
- occupation and employer (if applicable)
- next of kin or emergency contact
- insurance information
Any information that you are asked to provide in the emergency room is confidential.
You will also see a triage nurse. This nurse will also take your vital signs and obtain some basic information about what happened to determine if you have any serious or life threatening injuries. You will be placed in a private room as quickly as possible.
You have three options when coming to the Emergency Department:
- Have a medical exam without evidence collection: You will receive care from the emergency room staff and receive treatment as needed for injuries or other medical conditions. In addition, you can receive medications to prevent possible health problems, such as sexually transmitted infections, or emergency contraception.
If you are under the age of 18, you can still receive treatment for reproductive health care needs, substance use and mental health needs without parental permission. However, your parents may receive bills and insurance statements from the visit.
Information collected during the emergency department visit is not released to the University or to law enforcement (unless required by law) without your consent. The medical examination after a sexual assault is confidential in the same way that all medical visits are confidential.
- Have evidence collected without notifying law enforcement: If you are at least 18 years old, you may also ask for a PERK exam and evidence collection WITHOUT notifying law enforcement—this is called a blind report. PERK exams are generally limited to 72 hours after the assault. Emergency department staff may not contact law enforcement about a sexual assault without your permission, except in certain limited cases—i.e. if you have been seriously injured by a weapon.
Without law enforcement involvement, some forms of evidence (such as urine and blood for forensic toxicology) cannot be collected. The evidence will not be analyzed until you initiate a report with law enforcement. The evidence collected is either given to the appropriate law enforcement agency identified only by a number (not your name). The findings from the examination are documented in your medical record.
- Have evidence collected and file a police report: You may also decide to have a PERK exam and to notify law enforcement. In that case, the PERK exam is conducted and all evidence warranted by the situation is collected. The evidence collected is given to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The findings from the exam are documented in the medical record. Depending on the situation, an officer may take a statement from you in the emergency department or may make arrangements to speak to you at another time.
Do I Have to Report the Incident to Receive Care?
If you are age 18 or older, the decision to report to law enforcement authorities is solely up to you. Having evidence collected gives you a wider range of options later if you decide you want to press charges. You don't have to follow through with prosecution or report to any other agency even if you choose to have evidence collected. They will wait for your decision. If you don’t want to report the crime, the hospital isn’t required to notify the police when a sexual assault has occurred.
May I Have a Support Person With Me?
Hospital personnel will allow you to have someone with you during all examination procedures. In addition to having a friend with you, the UVA Emergency Department always calls a SARA advocate for any patient reporting sexual assault. You do not have to speak to the advocate, but one will be available to you. You may also contact SARA yourself before you go to the hospital at (434) 295-7273. Your interaction with SARA counselors is confidential.
A SARA advocate can provide emotional support during the exam and report-taking. Your advocate can help to explain medical procedures and the process of evidence collection. This person may also counsel friends or family members who may be at the hospital. An advocate may assist you with follow-up medical and counseling appointments and provide support throughout the criminal justice process.
Who Pays for My Treatment?
The Commonwealth of Virginia will pay for all evidence collection after an assault, STI & HIV prevention medications, and emergency contraception. Additional medical services, if needed, should be covered by private insurance. If you submit claims through your parents’ insurance, they may learn about your visit to the emergency room through the insurance company. You may discuss your payment options with the hospital accounting department. The Title IX Coordinator can help you with this. The Department of Student Health recognizes that there can be financial barriers to obtaining appropriate care and will assist you in obtaining the care that you need.
After your emergency room visit, it is important for you to seek follow-up care at Student Health. There is no charge for an office visit with a clinician, but there are charges for any laboratory tests that are needed.
The Virginia Crime Victims Act established the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund to pay for some physical and emotional injuries as a result of a crime. This fund can compensate you for out-of-pocket medical expenses, psychological counseling, or lost wages that are a result of the assault. It is coordinated through the Victim & Witness Assistance Program. The Victim & Witness Program Coordinator can explain the fund to you and help you complete the application. Other expenses, such as follow-up medical care, psychological counseling, or lost wages due to the assault, may only be covered if you report the assault to the police.
How Much Control Do I Have Over My Care?
The medical staff cannot provide care or collect physical evidence without your permission. They need your signed consent for the exam and to give the evidence kit to the police. You have the right to refuse any part of the exam or treatment and to ask any questions you may have about any aspect of your care. All procedures should be explained so that you understand why and how they are done; if not, it's OK to ask the nurse or doctor to explain what they are doing. This may help you maintain some feeling of control during the medical procedures.
It is important to have follow-up tests and an exam within 2-4 weeks after the emergency department visit. You may be seen by your private clinician or, as a UVA student, follow-up care can be provided at Student Health. Professional services are covered by your prepaid Student Health Fee. There are additional charges for lab tests and medications, if needed. It's best if you call Student Health Gynecology (924-2773) or if you are a male survivor, General Medicine (982-3915), as soon as possible to make a follow-up appointment. This is especially important if you started medications to prevent HIV.
If you don't have a ride and if you are not going with law enforcement to make a statement, transportation home or to a safe place may be arranged with a family member, friend, victim advocate, or by the local law enforcement agency. The forensic nurse, SARA advocate, or hospital social worker can help you with this.