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The Human Trafficking Initiative



The Massachusetts General Hospital released the Human Trafficking Initiative, a research incentive designated for minors and adults seeking urgent care and are possible victims of human traffic rings.

The Human Trafficking Initiative (HTI) launched in an effort to train physicians working in the ER to pinpoint certain characteristics of a patient upon treating them.  Prostitution, recently arrived illegal immigrants, and forced laborers have been reported in all 50 states and suffer health issues such as physical abuse, occupational injuries, and sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, malnutrition, substance abuse, and neglect of medical conditions.  It has been reported that in nearly 90% of cases, trafficked patients went undetected while in the care of a physician.

MGH began this initiative in 2008 to do their part in the healthcare sector’s effort at anti-trafficking.  The initiative consists of research, education, policy, and clinical care.

Now, Dona Constantine, Senior REIS Management Specialist at the Cooperative of American Physicians, Inc. in California is beginning her efforts to spread this awareness and initiative to hospitals throughout the state of California.  Because of statistics from 2008-2008, she estimates that anywhere from 14,500-17,500 patients may be going through emergency rooms or medical visits without receiving the additional help beyond healthcare.  In an exclusive interview to FierceHealthcare, she stated that the basic idea to begin training is teaching physicians to notice red flags, such as lack of identity documentation, or whether the patient is not answering their own questions.

With new technologies arising, it may even be possible to identify some victims by finding GPS trackers implanted under their skin.  One patient may be worth around $180,000 a year to their controller so proper training is important to approach with a calm and discrete demeanor.

With these efforts, it is expected that other hospitals in different states will begin to implement similar training programs to reduce the trafficking issue in the United States.