Child sex trafficking victims admitted for high risk health complaints in a busy, inner city emergency department can be identified effectively using an initial screening tool. The findings of the study are published in the journal Academic Emergency Medicine (AEM).
The lead author of the study is Sheri-Ann O. Kaltiso, MD, a resident in the emergency medicine residency program at Emory University School of Medicine. The findings of the study are discussed in the featured episode of SGEM Hop (Skeptics Guide to EM Hot Off the Press).
‘‘Victims of abuse, exploitation and trafficking often seek medical treatment multiple times. Identifying them with appropriate screening tools is much needed’.’
Kaltiso, et al., maintain that when administered using a trauma informed approach, the screening tool presents minimal risk of harm and does not require significant extra time or resources.
Moving forward, the authors suggest that further research is warranted to determine the prevalence of child sex trafficking and applicability of the screening tool among patients presenting with all types of chief complaints and in other practice settings. Future studies can also assess the most effective ways to implement the tool.
Commenting on the study is James P. d' Etienne, MD, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Integrative Emergency Services, John Peter Smith (JPS) Health Network, and part of a pilot program to identify victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking:
"Multiple sources have clarified that victims of assault, abuse, exploitation and trafficking seek medical attention, often multiple times. Victims rarely self-identify during medical encounters. Appropriate screening tools (short, accurate, and evidence based) which can identify human trafficking, in its multiple varieties are needed. This is especially true in busy unscheduled care settings (emergency departments, urgent care centers and clinics) where this population is most likely to present. This much needed study builds on Dr. Greenbaum's previous work toward developing an evidence based, relatively simple, screening tool specific to the pediatric population which have unique screening challenges."