Recently I had the honor of speaking at a Human Trafficking awareness conference that was hosted by a local health system. I was thrilled that I was asked to speak, that our medical experts are asking for help in understanding this issue and how they can help to identify and bring aid to victims of this crime.
Our health professionals are in a unique position to play a vital role in identification and rescue as most victims endure physical trauma when they are trafficked and often pass through their corridors at some point on their journey. One study found that 28% of trafficked women saw a health care professional while still in captivity. This represents a serious missed opportunity for intervention as health care providers are in a unique position to identify victims of trafficking and provide important physical and psychological care for victims while in captivity and after. It could be in an emergency room or an urgent care center to deal with either a minor or major illness or injury. It could be during a routine checkup.
I hope that other organizations who work with patients in numerous settings put a priority on educating medical personnel regarding the signs to look for and develop appropriate protocols on how to help.