Healthcare News & Insights

Human trafficking: Identifying victims who visit hospitals

You may have noticed a recent uptick in discussions surrounding human trafficking, and health care is one of the many areas affected. As human trafficking continues to grow, it’s more essential than ever for your staff to recognize the signs patients are being trafficked and know what steps to take next.

Remain nonjudgmental.

  • Watch the patient’s body language and communication style, as well as how the patient interacts with his or her companions.
  • Use plain language, and find an interpreter if necessary.
  • Make an attempt to interview or examine the patient in private, and ensure the patient is alone when you’re discussing sensitive issues. If you’re able to talk to the patient alone, ask certain screening questions (which can be found in the Joint Commission’s advisory).
  • Document concerns in the patient’s record so if he or she returns for follow up care, other providers will be aware of the problem.
  • Next steps

    If a patient confesses to being trafficked, there are a few steps staff can consider taking. When there’s an immediate life-threatening risk, encourage the patient to contact law enforcement.

    Often, adult victims aren’t ready to admit what’s happening to them. If they’re over 18, no one can force them to call law enforcement. Besides providing medical care, the most important thing is to offer an understanding and respectful shoulder to lean on.

    But remember: For minors, staff members are required to follow mandatory reporting guidelines.

    Other steps include providing theNational Human Trafficking Resource Center’s hotline number (1-888-373-7888), discussing a safety plan when going through the discharge process and using a social worker if possible.

    Many of your employees may be unaware of the details of caring for patients involved in human trafficking, which is why regular training and refreshers are particularly helpful.

    Subscribe Today

    Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.