Signs and Indicators for Scheduler, Receptionist and Person Taking Chief Complaint
Spotting the indicators of human trafficking should begin with the first contact with the client.
Think about a typical office and possible approaches that staff can make to intervene when a potential victim of human trafficking presents in the clinic. The presence of one indicator does not necessarily mean the person has been trafficked, however, the confluence of multiple flags may be cause for staff to make a note in the medical record. Each person in the health care facility has a role and responsibility to identify signs and indicators, beginning with the scheduler. Some signs the scheduler might note would be:
- The Call – If the call is made by another individual on behalf of the client; or if the patient calls directly, and it is clear that another person is listening and advising on answers; other red flags would be a lot of background whispering and pauses (e.g., having to get the answer from another person); or if the victim passes the phone to another person to help answer the questions. Another flag is if the client cannot provider a physical address for the pre-visit paperwork.
- Interpreters – If the person doesn’t seem to speak English fluently, the scheduler should ask for the language requirement and inform the patient that the office will provide an interpreter free of charge. Interpreters should also receive training.
- The Goal – It is important that the scheduler not be too assertive or judgmental because the goal during this stage is to get the patient to keep their appointment.
Reception is another place where there is an opportunity to look for signs and indicators of trafficking. Some signs the Receptionist might note would be:
- Presentation – If the client comes in with someone and defers to that person in answering questions or confirming their responses; or looks concerned that they gave a wrong answer; if the client does not have a photo ID, or the accompanying person is holding their ID.; if the accompanying person fills out the client’s paperwork; or again, if the client does not have a stable physical address.
- Characteristics of the Patient – The patient does not look at the receptionist directly. The patient is fidgety or high strung (which could be nervousness or due to addiction). The patient is dressed inappropriately for the season.
Other Possible Indicators – A person (e.g., the exploiter or his “bottom girl”) frequently brings in different women or girls. There are non-verbal cues seen while the patient sits in the waiting room (e.g., constantly checking for the other person’s reactions, signs of nervousness). For labor trafficking victims, there may be signs of exposure to chemicals, pesticides, or other hazardous working conditions. For sex trafficking victims, there may be signs of physical abuse from the trafficker such as bruises