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Human trafficking: Compliance considerations for healthcare professionals

Meagan Parker (mparker@ddafhealthcare.com) is Manager, Healthcare Consulting and Jay P. Swacker (jswacker@ddafhealthcare.com) is Senior Healthcare Consultant with Dean Dorton Allen Ford, PLLC in Lexington, KY.

Every day, healthcare professionals provide medical care to human trafficking victims—but most are unaware that their patients are victims of this crime. There has been a recent push to raise awareness and train physicians on the signs exhibited by human trafficking victims and ways to effectively help them.[1] One challenge for compliance professionals to consider when providing trauma-informed care to this population of vulnerable patients is how to protect their rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Affordability Act (HIPAA) of 1996.[2] Clinicians may be hesitant to report information related to human trafficking for fear of violating HIPAA or from confusion surrounding state reporting laws. In this article, we will examine how healthcare providers in Kentucky, in particular, have enacted protocols to comply with the state’s mandatory reporting law and HIPAA.

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