October 2, 2020

Keeping the EM Focus on the Health of Human Trafficking Survivors

As we approach ACEP 2018, the ACEP Human Trafficking Work Group (HTWG) would like to provide an update on the activities of this group over the past year. See you in San Diego!


In the summer of 2017, our group and the College submitted a letter of support for the creation of ICD-10 codes for human trafficking to the ICD-10 Coordination and Maintenance (C&M) Committee, a federal interdepartmental committee comprised of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Catholic Health Initiatives (a 100+ hospital health system spanning 19 states) and Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA) in collaboration with the American Hospital Association submitted a proposal to the CDC for human trafficking ICD-10 classification system codes (download PDF) and were invited to present their case at the September 2017 meeting of the ICD-10 C&M Committee (watch video) (1:33:14). In June 2018, these new trafficking-specific abuse codes were officially included in the ICD-10-CM updates for fiscal year 2019 and will assist healthcare providers to adequately distinguish human trafficking victims from victims of other forms of abuse and thus, strengthen data collection on the health of trafficked persons accessing health care.


Emergency Medicine has the opportunity and responsibility to identify and assist trafficked persons who access our care in the safest of ways possible. In June 2018, ACEP Now published our group’s article entitled “The Complexities of Recognizing and Responding to Trafficked Patients in the ED” for widespread dissemination. The article highlights the detrimental impact of our preconceptions of human trafficking on our ability to recognize trafficking, and the importance of a safe, well-contemplated, and multidisciplinary response to caring for and assisting the victims. Learn more here.


In 2017, the HTWG submitted a proposal and received an ACEP Section Grant for the development of a course series of four online educational modules on human trafficking that will be made available through ACEP for continuing medical education credits. The content for these modules has been developed. The ACEP technology team has been particularly busy this year building the new ACEP website, however, we are ready to enter the platform-building phase with the College technology experts as soon as their timeline allows.

Wendy Macias-Konstantopoulos, MD, MPH
Chair, ACEP Human Trafficking Work Group
Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

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