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The Role of Health Care to Protect Victims of Human Trafficking

How health care teams can intervene on behalf of victims

April 05, 2022

Hospitals and their caregivers play an important role in protecting victims of human trafficking, but more resources and training are needed to ensure they know how to connect victims with critical support.

Next week, HAP is hosting a webinar, “Hiding in Plain Sight: Unmasking Human Trafficking.” The webinar will highlight how health care organizations can identify when patients may be victims of human trafficking and how they can intervene on behalf of victims.

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act and has been identified as a public health concern for individuals, families, and communities.

In one study, nearly 88 percent of victims of human trafficking reported seeking medical treatment during captivity, with the majority receiving care in the emergency department. Another survey of 173 people who endured U.S.-based human trafficking indicated that 68 percent were seen by a health care provider while being trafficked.

“While health care providers are serving this patient population, they do not consistently identify them as victims of human trafficking,” the survey concluded.

The educational webinar—with faculty Steven Turner, Esq., anti-trafficking consultant, trainer, and advocate—will explore:

  • How hospitals and health systems can identify victims in their hospitals and respond
  • What human trafficking means and common red flags in health care settings
  • Using a victim-centered, trauma-informed approach

Education and training are key next steps to ensure the health care community is able to respond and support victims of human trafficking.

Additionally, the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 is an important resource to connect victims and survivors of sex and labor trafficking with services and support. During 2020, the hotline received a total of 909 substantive phone calls or other reports about human trafficking cases and issues related to human trafficking in Pennsylvania.

For more information about next week’s webinar, contact HAP Education Services or call (717) 561-5270.