If you were a doctor and a patient came in to you telling you that she was being “tracked,” you would probably tell her to cut back on the caffeine and stop listening to Alex Jones.
However, in this case, the patient wasn’t just a paranoid nut believing the government had hidden a transmitter in her head. She was a victim of sex trafficking, and the doctor who treated her is so afraid for his safety he would only use the name Dr. A when he talked to NPR, which also concealed the name of his hospital.
“When you work on the east side of our hospital, psychiatric patients are a dime a dozen,” Dr. A said.
Dr. A explained that the patient explained that she had a GPS tracker in her side. They didn’t believe her until her X-rays came through.
“Embedded in the right side of her flank is a small metallic object only a little bit larger than a grain of rice,” Dr. A said. “But it’s there. It’s unequivocally there. She has a tracker in her. And no one was speaking for like five seconds — and in a busy ER that’s saying something.”
The woman, who was in her 20s, was being pimped by her boyfriend and being tracked via the GPS device, part of the scourge of sex trafficking in the United States.
“It was a small glass capsule with a little almost like a circuit board inside of it,” he said. “It’s an RFID chip. It’s used to tag cats and dogs. And someone had tagged her like an animal, like she was somebody’s pet that they owned.”
“I can guarantee you that I’ve placed my hands and I’ve examined and I’ve spoken to more trafficking victims than I know I have,” said Dr. Wendy Macias at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Macias is “one of the nation’s leading advocates to get doctors, nurses and hospital executives involved” in sex trafficking issues, according to NPR.
“You know traffickers are really smart, they will move their [victims] around from one city to the next all across the country,” she said. “I want us to help them when we have them in our midst because it may be the last time that they’re there.”
And since almost 90 percent of sex trafficking victims are estimated to need medical attention at some point, it’s an important first step.
The Polaris Project advises health care professionals to be on the lookout for these signs: individuals claiming to be “just visiting” the area, inconsistencies in the story you’re being told, another individual present who is speaking for the patient, or physical signs of abuse.
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