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Nonfatal strangulationPayment of costs for medical examination. (Expires June 30, 2023.)

(1) No costs incurred by a hospital or other emergency medical facility for the examination of the victim of domestic violence assault involving nonfatal strangulation, when such examination is performed for the purposes of gathering evidence for possible prosecution, shall be billed or charged directly or indirectly to the victim of such assault. Such costs shall be paid by the state pursuant to this chapter.
(2) The department must notify the office of financial management and the fiscal committees of the legislature if it projects that the cost of services provided under this section exceeds the amount of funding provided by the legislature solely for the purposes of this section.
(3) No later than October 1, 2022, the department shall report to the legislature the following information for fiscal year 2022:
(a) The number, type, and amount of claims received by victims of suspected nonfatal strangulation, with a subtotal of claims that also involved sexual assault;
(b) The number, type, and amount of claims paid for victims of suspected nonfatal strangulation, with a subtotal of claims that also involved sexual assault; and
(c) The number of police reports filed by victims of suspected nonfatal strangulation who received services under this section.
(4) This section expires June 30, 2023.


Finding2021 c 269: "The legislature finds that nonfatal strangulation is among the most dangerous acts of domestic violence and sexual assault. Strangulation involves external compression of the victim's airway and blood vessels, causing reduced air and blood flow to the brain. Victims may show no or minimal external signs of injury despite having life-threatening internal injuries including traumatic brain injury. Injuries may present after the assault or much later and may persist for months and even years postassault. Victims who are strangled multiple times face a greater risk of traumatic brain injury. Traumatic brain injury symptoms are often not recognized as assault-related and may include cognitive difficulties such as decreased ability to concentrate, make decisions, and solve problems. Traumatic brain injury symptoms may also include behavior and personality changes such as irritability, impulsivity, and mood swings.
Domestic violence victims who have been nonfatally strangled are eight times more likely to become a subsequent victim of homicide at the hands of the same abusive partner. Research shows that previous acts of strangulation are a unique and substantial predictor of attempted and completed homicide against an intimate partner.
For years, forensic nurses in Washington have provided high-level care to sexual assault victims. Forensic nurses are also trained in medical evaluation of nonfatal strangulation, but only provide this evaluation in cases of sexual assault involving strangulation, as crime victims' compensation will not reimburse in nonsexual assault cases. Strangulation affects victims physically and psychologically. These victims deserve a higher standard of response and medical care. Allowing crime victims' compensation to reimburse for forensic nurse examinations for victims of domestic violence strangulation will provide a better, more victim-centered response in the most dangerous of domestic violence felony cases." [ 2021 c 269 § 1.]
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