Coding of sexual assault by emergency physicians: A nationally representative study

Vithya Murugan, Katherine J. Holzer, Michael G. Vaughn, Jason T. Carbone, Dylan B. Jackson, Cindy C. Bitter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Sexual assault is a public health problem that affects many Americans and has multiple long-lasting effects on victims. Medical evaluation after sexual assault frequently occurs in the emergency department, and documentation of the visit plays a significant role in decisions regarding prosecution and outcomes of legal cases against perpetrators. The American College of Emergency Physicians recommends coding such visits as sexual assault rather than adding modifiers such as "alleged." Methods: This study reviews factors associated with coding of visits as sexual assault compared to suspected sexual assault using the 2016 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample. Results: Younger age, female gender, a larger number of procedure codes, urban hospital location, and lack of concurrent alcohol use are associated with coding for confirmed sexual assault. Conclusion: Implications of this coding are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-296
Number of pages6
JournalWestern Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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