I AM Patient Safety 2020: Individual Impact - Going Above and Beyond Award

2020 IAPS Individual Impact Award Winner Char Boyd, UPMC Hamot photo

Char Boyd, BSN, RN, Emergency Department

UPMC Hamot

In February 2019, a 17-year-old girl* presented to the ED requesting a pregnancy test. Triage nurse Char Boyd, BSN, RN, noted that she was accompanied by an adult man and woman claiming to be her stepbrother and his girlfriend. When the patient gave a birthdate that differed from what she was registered under, Boyd's years in the ED and her training as a sexual assault nurse examiner kicked in.

Boyd asked the girl who her companions were, but the patient couldn't give her “stepbrother's" name. The girl also didn't know where they were, stating they had driven from hours away and were only in town for a short while. She seemed nervous and looked to the older couple to answer questions. Thinking quickly, Boyd told the girl she needed to give a urine sample in the restroom behind triage while the man and woman sat in the waiting room. Once she was taken behind triage, the girl asked to leave, saying she didn't want to wait for testing. Boyd reassured her that she would be well taken care of. She got the patient a room and notified the charge nurse, case manager, and the local police about her concerns. The couple left before police arrived. The officers identified the patient as a 13-year-old Connecticut resident listed as a missing and endangered youth with high suspicion of being trafficked.

The International Labor Organization estimates there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally, with hundreds of thousands in the United States. Eighty-eight percent of rescued victims report accessing healthcare while being trafficked. Sixty-three percent of those victims were treated in an ED while being trafficked. Three quarters of human trafficking victims are women and children.

The statistics are alarming, and yet limited training to identify victims of human trafficking is provided to healthcare workers across the United States. Before this event, Boyd had devoted herself to the hospital's sexual assault nurse examiner team for several years, supported and cared for its most vulnerable patients, and provided education to her peers in identifying victims of abuse. Boyd is nothing less than a hero for helping rescue that 14-year-old girl from trafficking.


*Identifying details have been changed for privacy.


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