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American Hospital Association Names Human Trafficking a Key Focus for 2019 Anti-violence Initiative

January 18, 2019

January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Hospitals Against Violence Initiative has named human trafficking as a main focus area for 2019. Pennsylvania’s Office of Victim Services defines human trafficking as “a form of slavery in which traffickers profit from the abuse of others.” The most frequent forms of human trafficking involve sex trafficking and forced manual labor.

The AHA has released a new landing page with educational resources focusing on the roles of nurses, coalition-building, identifying tools, and establishing protocols for assisting victims of trafficking, as well as the ICD-10-CM Factsheet for coding human trafficking.

A video, led by Claire Zangerle, chief nursing officer, Allegheny Health Network, outlines the importance of recognizing the signs of human trafficking in all communities, and identifies the signs and behaviors associated with victims and their traffickers. The Blue Dot Program, implemented by Allegheny Health Network, showcases one of the innovative new approaches set to enable victims of trafficking to silently alert hospital staff to their situation and seek help.

An additional video, led by Katherine Chon, director, Office on Trafficking in Persons for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), highlights the importance of identifying vulnerable populations in workplaces or institutions, such as behavioral health centers or drug rehabilitation centers.

The AHA also is providing upcoming webinars to educate the hospital community about the signs and impacts of human trafficking, and how health care professionals can respond to cases of it in their communities:

Human trafficking remains an issue in Pennsylvania. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline—which is funded in part by an HHS grant—127 cases of human trafficking were reported in Pennsylvania during 2018. During 2014, then-Governor Tom Corbett signed Act 105, which amended the commonwealth’s crimes code to include key definitions relating to human trafficking, human traffickers, and human trafficking victims; provided key protections for victims; and outlined punishment for individuals found guilty of human trafficking.

HAP applauds the AHA for supporting hospitals in their endeavors to address human trafficking through Hospitals Against Violence. HAP is proud to participate in the program, which also seeks to combat workplace violence, prevent youth violence, and bring awareness to the roles of hospitals and health communities in combatting violence.

For more information about combatting human trafficking in hospitals, please contact Michael Consuelos, MD, HAP’s senior vice president, clinical integration.

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