Physicians at Front Line of Identifying Trafficking Victims — AMA

Physicians should be aware of warning signs such as bruises, cuts, scars; looking fearful or anxious
Physicians should be aware of warning signs such as bruises, cuts, scars; looking fearful or anxious

HealthDay News — Physicians can help to identify and assist trafficking victims, according to a report published by the American Medical Association (AMA).

Noting that more than 60% of survivors of trafficking reported going to a hospital or emergency department at some point, and visiting physicians in offices, urgent care clinics, neighborhood clinics, and women's health clinics, the report highlights ways to assist physicians in identifying and aiding possible victims.

Identifying victims of trafficking can be complicated, but warning signs include repeated sexually transmitted diseases and/or pregnancies; bruises, scars, burns, and cuts, especially hidden ones; looking fearful, anxious, or depressed; and bringing a third party to speak for them. Physicians should ask questions to open dialogue, such as asking whether the patient is comfortable or hungry, where they live, and whether they feel safe. Physicians should find a way to separate the patient from the person who brought them in, allowing patients to talk openly. Physicians can help get information to trafficking victims by putting pamphlets and posters in waiting rooms and offering hotline numbers.

"The AMA recently adopted policy that calls for educating physicians about human trafficking and teaching them how to report cases of suspected human trafficking to appropriate authorities to provide a conduit to resources to address the victim's medical, legal, and social needs," according to the report.

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