2006 Louisiana Laws - RS 40:2109.1 — Procedures for rape victims; emergency rooms of licensed hospitals; immunity

§2109.1.  Procedures for rape victims; emergency rooms of licensed hospitals; immunity

A.  All licensed hospitals in Louisiana shall adhere to the following procedures in the event that a person, male or female, presents himself or is presented at the hospital for treatment as a victim of rape, attempted rape, carnal knowledge, or crime against nature:

(1)  The victim shall make the decision of whether or not the incident will be reported to law enforcement officials.  No hospital may require the person to report the incident in order to receive medical attention.

(2)  If the victim does not wish to report the incident to law enforcement officials, the victim shall be examined and treated as a regular emergency room patient.  Any injuries requiring medical attention shall be treated in the standard manner.  Tests and treatments exclusive to a rape victim shall be explained to the patient, along with the costs for such tests.  The patient shall decide whether or not such tests shall be conducted.  Any examination and treatment shall include the preservation, in strict confidentiality, for a period of thirty days from the time the victim is presented for treatment, of tests or procedures, or both, and samples that may serve as potential evidence.  The patient shall be informed of the length of time for which the specimens will be preserved.  If the victim does not wish to report the incident to law enforcement authorities, the hospital's responsibilities, beyond medical treatment, shall be limited to the collection of tests, procedures, or samples that may serve as potential evidence.  Any evidence so collected shall then be assigned a code number and the hospital shall maintain code records for a period of thirty days from the date the victim is presented for treatment, said code records to be used for identification should the victim later choose to report the incident.  Once a code number has been assigned, custody of such evidence shall be transferred to the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction in the parish in which the hospital is located, and responsibility for the custody of such evidence shall belong to that law enforcement agency.  The hospital shall coordinate the transfer of such evidence with the local law enforcement agency in a manner designed to protect its evidentiary integrity.  Evidence which is transferred to the custody of the appropriate law enforcement agency shall bear only the code number assigned by the hospital.

(3)  If the victim wishes to report the incident to law enforcement officials, the hospital staff shall contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.  After the incident has been reported, the victim shall be examined and treated as a regular emergency room patient, any injuries requiring medical attention will be treated in the standard manner, and specimens shall be kept for evidence.  Such evidence shall be turned over to the law enforcement officers when they arrive to assume responsibility for investigation of the incident.

(4)(a)  Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Section, if any person sixteen years old or younger presents himself or is presented at a licensed hospital for treatment as a victim of any of the alleged crimes listed in this Section, the hospital staff shall immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement official.

(b)  The coroner of the parish, the district attorney, appropriate law enforcement officials, and hospital personnel may develop procedures pursuant to R.S. 15:440.1 through 440.6 to make a videotape of the person provided for in Subparagraph (a) when a person fourteen years old or under has been the victim of physical or sexual abuse.  The costs of such videotaping may be allocated among the agencies and facilities involved.

(5)  Notwithstanding any other provisions of this Section if the victim is physically or mentally incapable of making an intelligent decision, the hospital staff shall immediately notify the appropriate law enforcement officials.

B.  These procedures shall constitute minimum standards for the operation and maintenance of hospitals under the provisions of this Part and failure to comply with such standards shall constitute grounds for denial, suspension, or revocation of license under provisions of this Part.

C.  When a licensed hospital fails to examine and treat a person, male or female, who has presented himself or herself or who has been presented as a victim of rape, attempted rape, carnal knowledge, or crime against nature, the coroner of the parish shall examine the alleged victim and, if necessary, make arrangements for the treatment of the victim, notwithstanding the provisions of R.S. 33:1625(C).  No coroner shall refuse to examine and assist an alleged victim on the grounds the alleged offense occurred outside of or the victim is not a resident of the jurisdiction, provided the crime is reported or assistance is sought as soon as practicable.  Nothing in this Subsection shall relieve a licensed hospital of its obligations under Subsections A and B hereof.

D.  Any member of the hospital staff who in good faith notifies the appropriate law enforcement official pursuant to Paragraphs (4) and (5) of Subsection (A) of this Section shall have immunity from any civil liability that otherwise might be incurred or imposed because of such notification.  Such immunity shall extend to participation in any judicial proceeding resulting from such report.

Added by Acts 1979, No. 716, §3.  Amended by Acts 1981, No. 573, §1; Acts 1983, No. 98, §1; Acts 1984, No. 563, §1.


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