Kara Burks, RN

ER at WellStar Kennestone Hospital

Keeping a watchful eye on a patient can often uncover something that could save a life, no matter how unexpected. For Kara Burks, her keen observations helped rescue a child from unspeakable exploitation.

Last spring, a 16-year-old girl arrived in the pediatric emergency department of WellStar Kennestone Hospital complaining of a possible broken arm. According to Burks, the child’s story didn’t seem to make sense. The girl couldn’t provide the hospital with any adult contact information and told them she was with “a friend’s uncle.”

“That raised a big red flag with me,” Burks said. “I immediately thought something was going on.”

Burks told the physician about her concerns. Although the doctor thought the patient’s story matched up, Burks had a bad feeling about the situation and decided to contact the police.

The police arrived. After research, they discovered the child came up as a missing person from North Carolina. The girl had reportedly been missing for three years.

The man who was with the girl was then arrested, and the girl eventually admitted that she had been sexually trafficked for the past three years.

“As nurses, a lot of times we have use our instincts,” Burks said, “because sometimes things just don’t add up. You can’t put your finger on it, but you know that something isn’t right. A lot of nursing is advocating for your patient.”

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