New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS), Public Health Services Branch, Consumer, Environmental and Occupational Health Service, Environmental & Occupational Health Surveillance Program
Work-related asthma (WRA) has become the most common occupational lung disease in the United States, and is a serious public health concern in New Jersey. According to the American Thoracic Society, an estimated 15 percent of all asthma cases in the United States are work-related. Based on this national estimate, more than 67,000 New Jersey adults could have WRA. The assistance of New Jersey health care providers is vital to help reduce the incidence of this debilitating, sometimes fatal, occupational disease. The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (NJDHSS), Environmental and Occupational Health Surveillance (EOHS) Program, conducts surveillance and intervention activities for WRA under a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant. Reporting of WRA by health care professionals is an important method for identifying this disease in the NJDHSS occupational health surveillance system. In 2003k, the EOHS Program, in partnership with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, convened a Physician and Nurse Outreach Advisory Board (PNOAB). The PNOAB's mission is to promote outreach and education aimed at increasing the recognition, case reporting, and medical surveillance of WRA and other occupational diseases by health care providers in New Jersey. The EOHS Program, in collaboration with PNOAB members, developed the enclosed document, Guidelines-Work-Related Asthma Recognition, Diagnosis, and Reporting, and other educational materials for you and your patients. The Guidelines provide information on the differential diagnosis of WRA and will assist you in recognizing, managing, and reporting WRA cases to NJSDSS. The Guidelines and other materials are available from the EOHS Program, and are posted on the NJDHSS Web site at <a href="http://www.nj.gov/health/surv"target="_blank">www.nj.gov/health/surv</a>. EOHS Program staff can assist you with WRA case classification, and provide telephone consultations regarding exposures and conditions at your patient's workplace. If you have clinical questions, the EOHS Program can provide you with a list of specialists who can assist you with the diagnosis and management of WRA. State regulation, N. J. A. C. 8:58-1.5, requires physicians, advanced practice nurses, and physician assistants to report cases of WRA, as well as other occupational diseases, to the NJDHSS. Possible, probable, and/or confirmed cases of WRA should be reported to the EOHS Program.
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