Use of objective testing in the diagnosis of work-related asthma by physician specialty.
Curwick-CC; Bonauto-DK; Adams-DA
Ann Allergy, Asthma, & Immun 2006 Oct; 97(4):546-550
Although early and accurate diagnosis of work-related asthma is critical to avoid unnecessary medical, legal, social, and economic consequences, little is currently known about the diagnostic practices of physicians treating workers with work-related asthma. To characterize the use of objective diagnostic testing for work-related asthma by physician specialty. A cross-sectional, descriptive, comparative evaluation was conducted of 301 workers' compensation claimants with work-related asthma. A few claimants (36.9%) were treated by specialists in work-related asthma (allergists, pulmonologists, or occupational medicine physicians) either initially or through the course of their claim. Workers with occupational asthma were more likely to have seen a specialist than those with work-aggravated asthma (47.9% vs 23.0%; P < .001). Less than half of the claimants with work-related asthma (43.2%) had received an objective evaluation of pulmonary function, through either pulmonary function testing or testing for reversible airflow limitation, for the evaluation of their work-related asthma. Claimants treated by specialists were significantly more likely to have received diagnostic testing during evaluation of their disease than those treated solely by generalists (82.9% vs 20.0%; P < .001). The results of this study point to the lack of appropriate diagnostic care received by workers with work-related asthma. Physicians who may have questions about diagnostic procedures should consider referral to a specialist. The development of referral networks for work-related asthma may be warranted and should be explored.
Bronchial-asthma; Occupational-diseases; Diseases; Medical-treatment; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-health; Pulmonary-function; Air-flow; Immunology; Allergies; Medical-care
Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, Olympia, Washington