From the Journals

Pandemic may be limiting ED access for sexual assault



Dedicated care pathways

Commenting on the study, Samuel A. McLean, MD, MPH, director of the Institute for Trauma Recovery and professor of emergency medicine, psychiatry, and anesthesiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said, “This important work documents a reduction in visits by sexual assault survivors for emergency care and forensic evidence collection during times of pandemic surge. It’s impossible to know for certain if this reduction in visits is entirely due to a reduction in sexual assaults, but a number of lines of circumstantial evidence make this unlikely.”

The results highlight the importance of ensuring that sexual assault care is maintained during surges in emergency care volume, added Dr. McLean, who was not involved with the current study. “This can be done via methods such as dedicated care pathways that avoid prolonged survivor wait times for care, and public health messaging that informs the public of the continued ready access to care during surges. Evidence, including data cited by the authors, suggests that these same care-seeking reductions are occurring in the United States and elsewhere.”

The study was supported by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care Applied Health Research Question Fund. Dr. Muldoon, study coauthors, and Dr. McLean report no relevant financial relationships.

A version of this article first appeared on


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