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Dols JD, Beckmann-Mendez D, McDow J, Walker K, Moon MD. J. Emerg. Nurs. 2019; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2019, Emergency Nurses Association, Publisher Elsevier Publishing)






INTRODUCTION: Human-trafficking victims seek assistance for health issues in emergency departments. This point of contact provides an opportunity for screening and identification of the victim's situation, enabling intervention.

METHODS: This descriptive research study was designed to identify whether a standard protocol is currently used to identify, assess, and intervene for human-trafficking victims in 47 south Texas counties. ED leaders were surveyed using a sequential set of strategies including online, e-mail, and/or phone surveys to identify the methods used in emergency departments screening for adult/child human-trafficking victims.

RESULTS: Researchers surveyed 99 emergency departments in south Texas, which includes 21 counties bordering Mexico. Twenty-seven ED leaders responded (27.3%). Despite being located in an area with high rates of human trafficking, these leaders stated that few trafficking victims were identified in 2017. Eleven (40.7%) of the responding emergency departments specifically screened adults for human trafficking, and 10 (37.0%) specifically screened children for human trafficking. A variety of methods were used by each of these emergency departments to identify human-trafficking victims.

DISCUSSION: The failure to recognize human-trafficking victims prevents assessment of the victim's status and further delays referral to appropriate resources. Barriers to screening for human trafficking included lack of awareness of the human-trafficking experience, need for clinical education related to evidence-based protocols, and need for validated screening instruments and standardization of processes that promote action and provide victim assistance.

Copyright © 2019 Emergency Nurses Association. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Language: en


Emergency services; Human trafficking; Sex trafficking; Triage


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