Asylum Seekers in a Time of Record Forced Global Displacement: The Role of Physicians
Journal of General Internal Medicine, Vol. 34, No.1 (January 2019), pp. 137-143
Posted: 23 Jul 2018 Last revised: 10 Jan 2019
Date Written: June 15, 2018
In 2016, over 65 million individuals were displaced from their homes due to human rights abuses, and 262,000 people applied for asylum in the USA. Individuals who have experienced persecution are present in many primary and specialty clinics. A medical forensic evaluation can increase the likelihood of a successful asylum case. This paper reviews the legal framework for asylum and the contribution forensic evaluations can make to this vulnerable population. Physicians without asylum expertise can help these patients by recognizing their legal right to residential protection and referring them to lawyers and physicians with expert skills. Performing forensic examinations of asylum-seekers offers physicians the opportunity to collaborate with attorneys, immigration officials, and human rights experts. Clinicians who do this work find it personally and professionally rewarding, especially when they impart their expert knowledge and skills to future clinicians by involving trainees in these evaluations. Physicians who encounter refugees or asylum seekers in their roles as providers or as preceptors should have familiarity with the field of asylum medicine to enhance the comprehensive care they deliver.
Keywords: asylum, refugees, immigration, medical evaluations, physicians, global health
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