Expired CME Article

Human Trafficking and the Healthcare Professional

Authors: Jeffrey Barrows, DO, MA (Bioethics), Reginald Finger, MD, MPH


Despite the legislation passed in the 19th century outlawing human slavery, it is more widespread today than at the conclusion of the civil war. Modern human slavery, termed human trafficking, comes in several forms. The most common type of human trafficking is sex trafficking, the sale of women and children into prostitution. Labor trafficking is the sale of men, women, and children into hard labor for which they receive little or no compensation. Other forms of trafficking include child soldiering, war brides, and organ removal. Healthcare professionals play a critical role in both finding victims of human trafficking while they are still in captivity, as well as caring for their mental and physical needs upon release. Those working in the healthcare profession need to be educated regarding how a trafficking victim may present, as well as their unique healthcare needs.

Key Points

* Modern slavery still exists in society under the name of human trafficking.

* Healthcare professionals are in the unique position to find and free these victims.

* Healthcare professionals also have a role in restoring the mental and physical health of those who survive human trafficking.

* To properly fulfill these roles, healthcare professionals must be educated regarding the phenomenon of human trafficking.

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