A visit to the ED represents a vital opportunity for victims of human trafficking to break free from their exploiters, but this opportunity is often lost, either because ED personnel don't recognize the subtle cues that a person may be a trafficking victim, or because they don't know how to handle the situation. However, resources and training are available to help ED managers raise awareness of the issue in their settings. An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people are trafficked into this country each year, and this is in addition to the untold numbers of domestic victims who are forced into prostitution or other labor situations. A first step for ED managers who want to address this situation is to obtain on-site training for all staff in the ED so that they understand what human trafficking is, and can recognize the subtle cues that a patient may be a victim. When you suspect that patients may be human-trafficking victims, it is important to speak with them alone so that they are free to explain their situation. However, unless they are a minor, it is their decision on whether to seek help.
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