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Taking an exposure history.

AAOHN J 1995 Jul; 43(7):380-394
The importance of taking an exposure history for each patient and the the proper use of standard survey forms were discussed. Most environmental and occupational diseases appear as common health problems or have nonspecific symptoms, distinguished only by their etiology. Without the use of an exposure survey, inappropriate treatment and continued exposure to the detriment of the patient may result. Most people do not have a specialist in occupational health as their primary physician, and studies of patients' charts show that few include even a patient's occupation. It was stressed that the clinician need not be an expert in environmental health to identify possible hazardous exposures. Standard diagnosis procedures should be supplemented by consultation with industrial hygienists, environmental testing, and consideration of the latent effects of past exposures. Sources of toxicants discussed included indoor air pollution, common household products, pesticides and lawn care products, waste products, recreational hazards, water supply, and soil contamination. An exposure history form was presented and its use explained. The form, composed of an exposure history, a work history, and an environmental history, was designed to be filled out by the patient. The use of this form was demonstrated in three scenarios involving a 52 year old man with a history of angina and complaints of headaches. Material Safety and Data Sheets, consultations and referral resources were discussed as further sources of information. The authors conclude that an exposure history is an essential part of a patient's medical record.
Occupational-health; Medical-examinations; Occupational-exposure; Environmental-exposure; Occupational-medicine; Indoor-air-pollution; Toxic-materials; Agricultural-chemicals; Indoor-environmental-quality
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AAOHN Journal - American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Journal
Page last reviewed: December 18, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division