Victim-Centered Response to Human Trafficking Restores Control to Victims, Says Speaker

May 14, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Human trafficking is, "unfortunately, a big business, and it can happen to anyone," said Margaret Hambleton, MBA, CHC, CHPC, vice president and corporate compliance officer, Dignity Health, speaking April 27, 2018, at the spring conference of the Wisconsin Society for Healthcare Risk Management. At Dignity Health, which has implemented a program to help recognize, care for, and offer help to victims of human trafficking, "we promote what we call a victim-centered approach," Hambleton explained. Human trafficking includes sex trafficking and labor trafficking, as well as other forms of trafficking that are more common worldwide (e.g., organ trafficking, child soldiers). Most victims have contact with the healthcare system during their period of victimization, but their plight often goes unrecognized. "We come across it more often than we think we do," said Hambleton. The force, fraud, or coercion that "handlers" use to control victims is not always apparent. For example, handlers may threaten to harm the victim's family if they leave. Some victims are viewed as criminals; many feel so stigmatized that they have great difficulty asking for help. "We don't know the circumstances" of their situation, said Hambleton, stressing the importance of being nonjudgmental and treating everyone with dignity and respect.

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