House unanimously approves Caldier bill limiting hospital notification time on rape kits

A bill unanimously passed the House of Representatives Thursday that would require hospitals to notify a rape victim within two hours of their arrival that they don't have rape kits or a provider trained in sexual assault examinations on the premises.

Rep. Michelle Caldier spoke on the House floor about why she authored House Bill 1016.

“Imagine getting gang raped by four men, and showing up at the hospital, and waiting four long hours before they told you that you went to the wrong hospital — that they have no sexual assault kits,” said Caldier, R-Port Orchard. “That's what happened to a young woman named Hailey. After the most harrowing night that she endured, she sat at that hospital for four hours before the staff told her she was at the wrong hospital.”

Caldier said by the time the woman arrived at the right hospital and was tested with the rape kit, it was more than nine hours after she had been victimized.

“It took her that long to get the evidence to prosecute her rapists. That's wrong!” noted Caldier.

“This bill would tell the hospital it has two hours to inform the victim if it does not have the appropriate staff or kits available to do the proper sexual assault tests,” she added. “I want what happened to Hailey to never happen to another sexual assault victim again.”

Hospitals that fail to comply with the requirement could face a civil penalty of $2,000.

Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, said he felt two hours is generous.

“I think we're being too kind with this bill. I think within five minutes, somebody in admissions could tell these victims those services aren't available at that hospital,” added Griffey.

Caldier noted her measure had Republican and Democratic co-sponsors, but was the first Republican prime-sponsored bill passing the House of Representatives during the 2019 session, which began Jan. 14. The measure now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov