Texas health care professionals and certain employees of health care facilities are now required to take human trafficking prevention training.
Pursuant to Texas House Bill 2059, a health care practitioner shall successfully complete a training course on identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking approved by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. HB 2059 was signed by Governor Greg Abbott on June 10, 2019, and became effective on September 1, 2019. Completion of an approved course is now a condition for the renewal of a license issued to the health care practitioner. Tex. Occ. Code §116.003.
Under this legislation, a “health care practitioner” is defined as an individual who holds a license, certificate, or permit to engage in a health care profession under the Health Provisions title of the Texas Occupations Code and who provides direct patient care. Tex. Occ. Code §116.001(3). The bill is effective against Texas health care practitioners, including physicians, but not yet effective against Texas Nurses.
Human Trafficking is a Public Health Crisis
Human trafficking is a public health crisis that affects individuals and families across generations. The U.S. Department of Justice generally classifies human trafficking into two major categories: sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Sex trafficking is the recruitment, harboring, or solicitation of a minor for the purposes of a commercial sex act induced by force, fraud, or coercion. Labor trafficking is the recruitment or harboring a person through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude, debt bondage, or slavery.
The HB 2059 bill analysis Statement of Intent reports that Texas is second in the country in reported cases of human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking are often unable or unwilling to self-identify and studies show that health care providers are often the first professionals to have contact with a trafficked individual. The Statement of Intent reports: “A 2014 study found that an overwhelming majority of sex trafficking survivors reported having some type of contact with a health care provider while they were being trafficked, typically someone in a hospital or emergency room. Even conservative estimates report that about one in three trafficked persons accesses medical services at some point during their exploitation.”
The required human trafficking prevention training for Texas health care professionals is meant to empower practitioners to help victims. The statutory changes of HB 2059 equip our direct patient care health care providers with the training necessary to help detect human trafficking victims and provide them with the care they need.
To Get Help or Report Trafficking, please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline:
- Call: (888) 373-7888
- Text: “HELP” to BEFREE (233733)
- Email: [email protected]
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