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Cassandra Clifford
Executive Director and Founder of BTFF

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Identifying Human Trafficking Victims in a Health Care Setting

It’s estimated that between 14,500 and 17,500 individuals are trafficked into the United States each year. Health care providers are often one of the few “outsiders” with an opportunity to interact with human trafficking victims, and therefore play a key role identifying and rescuing victims. Providers at all levels must be trained to recognize and identify the signs and symptoms in order to rescue victims and fight this intolerable injustice. The following signs and symptoms may indicate that a patient is a victim of human trafficking:
  • Patient is unaware or lacks knowledge of his/her whereabouts, states that he/she is “just visiting”
  • No documentation, or lack of control over documents and paperwork
  • Few to no personal possessions
  • Inconsistent story
  • Patient refuses to speak to medical personnel, won’t make eye contact
  • 3rd party insists on being present or interpreting
  • Injuries (multiple, old & new)
  • Malnourishment
  • Branding
  • Patient lacks health insurance
  • A patient who is under 18 and in the sex industry – VERY big red flag, must be investigated
  • Patient exhibits a behavior change when law enforcement is mentioned
***Do not mention law enforcement if you suspect human trafficking, as it may cause the patient to shut down and not feel safe disclosing his/her status
  • Sexually transmitted infections, or history of bacterial or yeast infections
  • Patient’s demeanor (e.g., fearful, anxious, submissive, distant, emotionless)
  • Multiple abortions or miscarriages
If you suspect that a patient or any individual is a victim of human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center:
English: 1-888-373-7888
Korean: 1-888-967-5246
Spanish: 1-888-80-AYUDA

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