Practice Improvement|Articles in Press

Implementing a Human Trafficking Educational Module and Protocol in the Emergency Department

Published:March 01, 2023DOI:



      The purpose of this quality improvement initiative was to educate emergency nurses and social workers about human trafficking and implement a human trafficking screening, management, and referral protocol adapted from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.


      A human trafficking educational module was developed and delivered at a suburban community hospital emergency department to 34 emergency nurses and 3 social workers through the hospital’s e-learning platform, with learning outcomes evaluated via a pretest/posttest and program evaluation. The emergency department electronic health record was revised to include a human trafficking protocol. Patient assessment, management, and referral documentation were evaluated for protocol adherence.


      With established content validity, 85% of nurses and 100% of social workers completed the human trafficking educational program, with posttest scores being significantly higher than pretest scores (mean difference = 7.34, P ≤ .01) along with high (88%-91%) program evaluation scores. Although no human trafficking victims were identified during the 6-month data collection period, nurses and social workers adhered to the documentation parameters in the protocol 100% of the time.


      The care of human trafficking victims can be improved when emergency nurses and social workers can recognize red flags using a standard screening tool and protocol, thereby identifying and managing potential victims.

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      Gail Greiner-Weinstein is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago School of Nursing, Maywood, IL.


      Vicki Bacidore, Member, Illinois State Council, is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago School of Nursing, Maywood, IL. ORCID identifier: