Identifying Victims of Human Trafficking in the Health Care Setting

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Many health care providers in the United States practice with the thought that human trafficking, also referred to as modern day slavery, does not exist here in the United States. Rather, they believe that it is a problem relevant only to far off distant countries. The truth is that this terrible crime is occurring right here in the United States, just as it is in faraway places. In the United States, roughly 88% of victims have had an interaction with a healthcare provider during their captivity. This puts health care professionals in a unique position to interact with victims in a way that, if appropriately identified, can result in liberation for the victim. Identifying persons believed to be a victim of human trafficking requires health care providers to not only recognize the many types of trafficking that can occur, but also be able to recognize the indicators that unlawful human trafficking may be taking place.

To identify victims that are potentially in plain view yet unseen, health care professionals must be diligent to read between the lines of those things left unsaid to see the bigger picture presenting before them. From a pharmacy viewpoint, a woman that you notice coming into the pharmacy often to purchase emergency contraception may not be a victim of human trafficking, but she may be. It takes a closer examination of the bigger picture to discover if there are indicators of unlawful activity taking place. Does she have any other indicators that would merit striking up a conversation with her to dig a little deeper?…

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