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View Full Version : date rape kits and blood work to check for rohypnol



mellymel
05-22-2012, 07:47 PM
Hey guys,

So, my MC thinks she may have been drugged and sexually assaulted/raped. She goes to the ER to get tested. How long would it take to get results from the rape kit tests and how long would it take to get results from the blood work to see if there were any drugs in her system?

thanks.

James D. Macdonald
05-22-2012, 07:55 PM
Hours to weeks.

Complete inventory of a rape kit here (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/011069.html).

mayqueen
05-22-2012, 10:43 PM
I don't know about drug testing, but I can tell you about rape kits. I was involved in a training for SANEs on physical exams. (In fact, the scenario I role-played was "I was drugged and I think I was assaulted".) Things like physical evidence of trauma is found immediately, but DNA in saliva and semen has to be swabbed. Those results can take weeks or months, if the testing is ever done (http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-03/D9TJN1R83.htm).

mellymel
05-23-2012, 03:15 AM
thanks guys. So would it be completely inaccurate that my MC could get her results within 3-4 days?

Trebor1415
05-23-2012, 11:14 AM
As Mayqueen pointed out, the "secret shame" of the justice system is that many rape kits are never tested. For the ones that are tested, we're talking about months or years later, and then usually only if there is a viable suspect to compare against the kit.

So, yes, it would be very unrealistic for her to get results in days. Btw, she wouldn't get the results. They'd go to the police and/or prosectuor as they are evidence.

Now, hospital bloodwork outside of the standard rape kit is likely to be released to her as it is part of her medical record. That would include drug testing.

Of all things, the wiki article on date rape drugs has some good info. (I logged out of my Google account before I looked for that one...)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Date_rape_drug

Note they mention over the counter products to test for certain drugs and the patient can also hire a private lab.

jclarkdawe
05-23-2012, 04:41 PM
Not only are most urine samples not tested, Rohypnol is hard to test for. It has a half-life of 18 to 28 hours (which means that half of the dose is gone by 28 hours). It can easily reach undetectable amounts in as little as a day and definitely within a week. Many people who allege that they were administered Rohypnol do not show up at the hospital within that range.

No one is quite sure whether it is this fact that results in the very low incidence of Rohypnol actually being used, or whether it is in actuality used a lot less then one would believe from reports. Reality seems to be that the primary date rape drug continues to be alcohol.

There are test strips available over-the-counter. They are not admissible in court, and actually test for several drugs, but may serve your purpose. Benzodiazepines with the test strips have a cutoff point of 300 ng/mL. Flunitrazepam comes in either 1 or 2 mg tablets. Most likely dose of a date rape use would be the 1 mg tablet. I'm not sure how long the test strips work for before the concentration goes below the cutoff, but it's a fairly quick time limit. After a day I'd be inclined to doubt the drug would show up.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

mellymel
05-23-2012, 07:04 PM
great info, guys. thanks so much. i had no idea how hard it is for victims who go through this horrible experience (and it does happen--probably more than we think) to get any real help/results. Very scary!

ETA: Trebor, i was just wondering, in my research I read that the info re: the results of a rapekit is confidential and will not go to the police unless the patient gives them the go ahead to do it. The MC did not go to the police but straight to the ER. are you saying that information is inaccurate? just wondering. thanks!

shaldna
05-24-2012, 01:53 AM
Hey guys,

So, my MC thinks she may have been drugged and sexually assaulted/raped. She goes to the ER to get tested. How long would it take to get results from the rape kit tests and how long would it take to get results from the blood work to see if there were any drugs in her system?

thanks.

From my time working labs I can tell you that CSI has a lot to answer for. We NEVER had results immediately. Or the same day, hell, we were lucky if we had results the same week.

When you are dealing with a queue of samples, it can take weeks to get to a particular sample - and those deadines would be shifted depending on WHO was needing the sample - I hate to say it, but the more important the person, or the more high profile the case, the sooner it got processed.

Most tests will take, once they reach front of the queue, at LEAST 24 hours, some test take longer - several days.

Nothing happens quickly in science.

mayqueen
05-24-2012, 03:26 AM
At the ER, the patient would decide if she or he wants the evidence collected in the rape kit to be used by the police. I think that varies state by state, though.

jclarkdawe
05-24-2012, 03:54 AM
Rape kits have very little to do with the difficulty of prosecuting this type of case. Date rape rarely involves a denial on the part of the defendant that it happened; the question is whether there was consent. There tends to be three problems.

1. These cases tend to be old when the police are notified. With any type of crime, the longer the period of time from the commission of the crime to the reporting of it to the police, the less likely it is to be solved. Evidence tends to go stale and people's memories tend to fade. Many of these cases are not reported for several days.

2. Directly related to the first fact is the testing to see whether drugs were administered is more accurate the closer in time to when the crime happened. Drug testing within twelve hours is very effective, showing both any illegal drugs as well as the presence of alcohol. However, nearly all of the results show alcohol and maybe some recreational drugs. Levels on the alcohol tend to be extremely high, often double or more the legal limit for driving. Question now becomes whether the ingestion of the alcohol and other recreational drugs was voluntary or slipped in. And juries are beginning to accept that extreme intoxication, even if entirely voluntary, can negate the ability to consent.

3. The last problem, which tends to be the biggest one, is the credibility of the victim. A hooker can be date raped and a nun can have consensual sex, but a jury will have a hard time believing either. It's not fair, but it's the case with many different crimes that the credibility of the victim influences everyone's view of the crime, from the police officer to the jury.

The reason so many of the samples aren't tested is due to the case being dropped by the victim and/or the prosecutor or having pled out before the testing was done. Lack of the testing being done is very rarely a factor when the case actually goes to trial.

People who go into writing have a problem dealing with its slow pace. As a trial attorney, I find the pace of the writing world so much faster then the legal one.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Trebor1415
05-24-2012, 08:54 AM
ETA: Trebor, i was just wondering, in my research I read that the info re: the results of a rapekit is confidential and will not go to the police unless the patient gives them the go ahead to do it. The MC did not go to the police but straight to the ER. are you saying that information is inaccurate? just wondering. thanks!

I'm not up on all the legalities, and it may vary from state to state.

In general though, if the kit is going to be considered "evidence" than it is going to go into police custody and stay there until (and if) it is tested. That is to maintain the "chain of custody" for legal purposes.

I do not know if the patient has to give consent to turn it over to the police or not. That may also vary by state. I will say that if a patient has evidence collected for a rape kit, and then that person doesn't give consent to turn it over to the police (if that is even allowed) there is no way that kit will ever be able to be used as evidence as the chain of custody is broken.

Again, the wiki article has some good general info and even better links to follow:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_kit